There was no doubt in Louisiana-Lafayette baseball coach Tony Robichaux’s mind as to the turning point in Saturday night’s 16-5 loss to Southeastern.
With one out and two runners on base in the bottom of the third inning, Lions right fielder Ryan Byers faced a full count. Southeastern already led 3-0 at that point, so Byers could be patient and wait for the fastball he wanted from Cajuns starting pitcher Wyatt Marks.
That’s what Marks gave him. And Byers showed why that was his pitch.
The junior sent it clear over the Lions’ scoreboard in left field for a three-run homer — more than enough momentum to carry Southeastern to a victory in the second game of their nonconference weekend series.
“It was important to jump on them early because you just have to keep putting teams away, no matter what the score is,” Byers said. “We just had to keep chipping away.”
Robichaux said the Cajuns never put together any momentum from the start and the Lions had more than enough while playing in front of their home crowd.
Marks never got comfortable.
Lions freshman shortstop Brennan Breaud led off the bottom of the first with a line-drive single past the outstretched glove of Cajuns shortstop Brad Antchak.
Marks followed that by plunking Daniel Midyett in the hip, then giving up a double to the center-field warning track off the bat of Carson Crites, scoring two for Southeastern.
Byers ended the Cajuns right-hander’s night with his first of two home runs, the second coming on a two-run shot in the eighth inning.
Marks finished with six runs allowed on six hits and one strikeout in 2.1 innings.
Marks was one of six Cajuns pitchers who combined to allow 12 total hits while striking out only six. The Cajuns offense also earned 12 hits off Southeastern pitching.
“You have to be at home sometimes (to make a comeback),” said Robichaux, whose team began this three-game series at home in Lafayette. “We got their crowd in it (Saturday in Hammond). We knew they play well here. Last night, Gunner (Leger), our crowd, they gave us the momentum. The challenge is to get that on the road.”
The Cajuns’ lack of scoring wasn’t due to lack of opportunity. They left 13 runners on base.
Three times Saturday, the Cajuns came up empty-handed in an inning after putting two runners on with one out.
Both coaches praised the Lions defense — particularly that of center fielder Jacob Seward, who made several diving, run-saving catches in the outfield.
“Their defense really played well, and again, that’s momentum,” Robichaux said. “They played above and beyond and that’s what momentum and adrenaline makes you do.
“They do a good job playing here with that adrenaline and momentum.”
The nation’s top hitter also continued his magical season as Southeastern’s Jameson Fisher went 2-for-3, including a first-pitch solo homer to lead off the fifth inning for the Lions. Fisher crossed home pate three times Saturday.
The senior entered the game going 0-for-6 over the past two games, both of which were losses for Southeastern.
The win snaps the Lions’ longest losing streak in two seasons. They dropped six in a row in 2014.
“It was just a great way to respond,” Riser said. “We had lost three in a row ... and the last time we went on a little streak like that, we put some things together and we ended up in the NCAA Regionals.”
Southeastern pitcher Mac Sceroler was awarded the win. He finished with three runs allowed on nine hits. He also struck out six and walked four all on 117 pitches over 5.2 innings.