LAFAYETTE — Evan Guillory didn’t need to throw a one-hitter this time around.
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette (22-11) built an eight-run lead by the time the fifth inning was complete against Tulane (21-11), and Guillory (3-3) combined with senior right-hander Eric Carter to strike out 11 Wave hitters in a lopsided 9-2 Cajuns win.
“We’re swinging the bat and hitting the ball hard again,” Cajuns coach Tony Robichaux said. “That was our biggest issue throughout the year, but we did that going away this weekend, and we brought it into here.”
Six Cajuns came around to score, most of them off the bats of Joe Robbins and Brian Mills, who combined to go 5-for-7 with seven RBIs in the game. And they got started early against Tulane starter J.P. France (2-1).
Robbins started an avalanche of Cajuns runs when he hit a two-strike pitch well beyond the wall in left-center field to give the Cajuns a 2-0 lead.
“It was a fastball,” Robbins said. “He kind of left it up and over the plate. It was a big mistake.”
That began a stretch of four consecutive innings that the Cajuns scored at least two runs, quickly turning what was expected to be a close game between two evenly matched teams into a blowout.
It was Mills’ turn to get things started in the next inning. After No. 9 hitter Derek Herrington drew a leadoff walk to turn the lineup over, Mills yanked a double into the left-field corner to score Herrington from first base.
The bases were loaded by the time Robbins came up later in the inning, and he smacked a two-run single into left field to give him four RBIs through the first three innings and put the Cajuns ahead 5-0.
The duo continued to trade off making big licks against the Green Wave pitching staff in the next inning. A Nick Thurman walk and a Herrington double put runners at second and third for Mills, and he drilled another double down the left-field line.
In his past two games, Mills has had four extra-base hits with nine RBIs. His RBI binge moved him into a tie with Robbins for the season lead.
“Getting in the box, we’re just getting in there with a lot of attitude to get our swing off the best way we can,” Mills said. “We’ve been doing that.”
The Cajuns added two more runs in the fifth on a sacrifice fly and wild pitch to give them a 9-1 lead.
A big lead can cause some pitchers to lose their focus, but Guillory always seemed to have the right pitch ready in the few occasions when Tulane put itself in position to score.
“You want a lot of runs, but sometimes you can get a lot and you can get careless,” Robichaux said. “He didn’t get careless along the way.”
He also got a helping hand from his defense.
Jake Willsey led off the third with a double, but he never looked back at the ball when Alemais hit a liner to right field with one out. Herrington made a phenomenal diving stab, then lobbed the ball to second for an inning-ending double play as Willsey was wheeling around the bases.
“I think it won us the game, to be honest with you,” Robichaux said of Herrington’s play. “You look for something in a game early that can set the tempo and sway things back to you.
“That gets under his glove and rolls to the wall, who knows? Yet it’s a double play on a line drive to right field. It builds the pitcher’s momentum, and it builds our crowd.”
Tulane opened the fifth with back-to-back singles, but Robbins started a 5-3 double play to erase the lead runner before Willsey connected on his second double of the game, limiting the damage to one run.
Hunter Hope drilled his ninth home run of the year over the right-field fence in the seventh, but Guillory and Carter combined to strike out seven of the next 10 Tulane batters that came to the plate.
A week after firing a one-hit shutout on 93 pitches against Northwestern State, Guillory once again turned in an outstanding final line, striking out six and walking none in seven innings. Carter polished off the Wave by striking out five of the eight batters he faced.
With the win, the Cajuns earned a season split with the Green Wave. The Cajuns will be back on the road Wednesday to face a UNO team that they beat 7-4 earlier this season.
Robichaux was not ready to announce a starting pitcher for Wednesday after Tuesday’s win, and he said in his Monday press conference that he would likely approach it by committee.