For a few seconds in Sunday’s seventh inning, it appeared that UL-Lafayette’s baseball team had rallied back from another slow start and taken a late-game lead.
Instead, Daniel Lahare’s shot to right-center field was ruled to have bounced off the wall rather than over the wall, and Wright State eventually survived in a 4-3 decision that left the Ragin’ Cajuns at 2-5 and left 4,707 fans at M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field shaking their heads.
“There is no getting robbed,” said Lahare, who was left stranded at second base in the seventh after the controversial hit. “There are things that happen in baseball games and you just have to keep playing through them.”
Wright State (2-4) did keep playing, with relief pitcher Derek Hendrixson retiring three Cajuns in a row to end that inning, and the Raiders adding a key insurance run in the ninth on two hits and two walks.
“We had some chances and didn’t get it done,” said Cajuns coach Tony Robichaux, who was ejected for arguing Lahare’s homer-turned-double. “At the end of the day, we’re 2-5. That falls on me as the leader, I’m the head coach and I have to do a better job of coaching my guys.”
UL-Lafayette trailed 3-2 when Monroe Moll was hit by a Hendrixson pitch to lead off the bottom of the seventh. With pinch runner Marco Ramos at first, Lahare launched an 0-2 pitch to the right-center gap, one that bounced back into the field of play with Ramos winding up at third and Lahare at second.
One umpire twirled a finger in the air to indicate a home run, and after a moment’s confusion Ramos trotted home with Lahare right behind. Replays in the stadium appeared to show the ball bouncing off one of the pine trees located behind the wall, but after Wright State coach Jeff Mercer questioned the call and after a meeting with all four umpires, they ruled it a double.
Robichaux argued the call, an argument that heated up until he was ejected by second-base umpire Myron Miller.
When asked about what he received for an explanation, Robichaux only said: “I have to do a better job of coaching my guys.”
Lahare added: “I wasn’t really paying attention to the ball. I was just running as hard as I could. The runner in front of me stopped, so I stopped. You never concentrate on where the ball’s hit; you see it down and you keep running.”
Even after the controversy, UL-Lafayette had the tying run at third and the go-ahead run at second with nobody out, but Hendrixson struck out Kole McKinnon and Gavin Bourgeois and coaxed an inning-ending fly ball from Hayden Cantrelle.
McKinnon made things tighter when he launched a two-out solo home run in the bottom of the ninth — one that also bounced back into the field of play — and Bourgeois followed with a base hit, but Cantrelle was called out on a close play at first for the final out.
“You don’t get better by making excuses,” Robichaux said. “You don’t get better by blaming something on somebody else. We had some chances throughout the game and didn’t capitalize.”
UL-Lafayette scored in the first on Hunter Kasuls’ sacrifice fly that scored Bourgeois, but the Raiders answered with three runs in the third on Peyton Burdick’s two-run homer and Seth Gray’s RBI single.
Cajuns freshman starter Austin Perrin (0-2) stranded seven other runners in the first four innings, and reliever Brock Batty issued a single to Grey in the fifth before retiring the next nine batters.
“He (Perrin) had some stress pitches in there, but that’s a good job for a freshman,” Robichaux said. “Batty threw well, it sounded like the other guys threw well, too, when I was in the clubhouse.”
Caleb Sampen (1-0) got the win for the Raiders, who took the three-game weekend series with Sunday’s win. Wright State plated the eventual game-winner off reliever Caleb Armstrong in the ninth when Burdick and Gabe Snyder led off with singles and Zach Weatherford drew a walk. Armstrong fanned the next two before walking pinch hitter Zane Harris to make it 4-2.