LAFAYETTE — Since its rough debut in a season-opening series loss to Texas-San Antonio, the Louisiana-Lafayette baseball team’s bullpen has been one of the squad’s stronger parts. And that trend continued this past weekend in the Ragin’ Cajuns’ series win at Alabama.
The Cajuns bullpen combined to allow just two earned runs in 8.1 innings, striking out nine and walking none. With the help of some outstanding defensive efforts, Cajuns relievers nailed down coach Tony Robichaux’s 1,000th career win Saturday with 4.1 innings of scoreless relief.
Robichaux was unsure of what he had at the start of the season, mainly because he was relying on a slew of freshman and junior-college transfers in his bullpen. But after getting past the nerves brought on by their first appearance in a Cajuns uniform, the group appears to have earned Robichaux’s trust.
In all, the Cajuns used five pitchers in relief this weekend — with de facto closer Colton Lee coming on twice — and only one, Riley Cooper, was on the team a year ago.
Lee and LSU-Eunice transfer Will Bacon were pitching for junior colleges last season, and Wyatt Marks and Dylan Moore were still in high school. All of them have had their numbers called early this season as Robichaux has figured out how to piece together his young staff.
Moore and Lee have anchored the bullpen, with each having pitched more than 11 innings of relief this season. Robichaux likes to pair the side-armed Lee with Moore, whose delivery has a deceptive hitch in it, to disorient hitters who just got through multiple innings against a Cajuns starter with more traditional throwing mechanics.
Since allowing nine earned runs in 13 innings to UTSA, the bullpen has steadied, allowing just four earned runs in 39.2 innings. During that stretch, the bullpen has struck out 28 batters against just seven walks.
The Cajuns ripped 11 extra-base hits this past weekend, all of which came in the final two games of the series, and all of which came from five players.
Greg Davis and Nick Thurman each collected three extra-base hits, with Thurman totaling three doubles in the final two games of the series and Davis adding a pair of doubles to his first-inning home run in the series finale.
Two of Blake Trahan’s four hits in the Cajuns’ 14-2 win Sunday were doubles, and second baseman Brenn Conrad had a double in both Saturday’s and Sunday’s wins. Kyle Clement also doubled in Sunday’s win.
The Cajuns entered the series with 20 extra-base hits in their first eight games.
Davis has hit safely in each of the Cajuns’ past four games after going 5-for-12 with five RBIs in the Alabama series. Davis leads all Cajuns regulars with a .340 batting average.