LAFAYETTE — Kyle Clement became the first Cajun in a quarter century to hit for the cycle as UL-Lafayette swept a Saturday double-header against Jackson State, 7-6 and 15-2.
Shortstop Blake Trahan also entered his name in the history books by matching the school record with a 23-game hitting streak in the morning contest, but his chance at breaking the record ended with an 0-for-4 performance in the nightcap.
Clement completed the cycle with a single and a triple in an eight-run seventh inning that propelled the Cajuns (20-13) in the second half of Saturday’s twin bill against the Tigers (21-13).
“His batting practice about a week ago was really good, we worked to get him back in the lineup and he responded,” said coach Tony Robichaux.
Clement, batting in the eight hole, started the seventh-inning barrage with a one-out single. When he came to the plate again as the 11th batter of the inning, he didn’t realize he was a triple shy of the cycle.
Maybe it was better that he didn’t know. On the ninth pitch of the at bat, Clement yanked a pitch into the right field corner and raced around the bases. After he slid into third base he peeked into the dugout and caught a glimpse of teammate Dylan Butler saying “cycle.”
“I didn’t even know what he was talking about,” Clement said. “I wasn’t aware that I was even going for it and then I put two and two together and thought about everything. … It’d have probably been tougher to do if I’d have known what I was going for.”
Clement became the first Cajun to hit for the cycle since Tommy Bates in a 1990 game against TCU. His two-out, two-run home run in the fourth inning was the first of his career, but after the game he said the triple was the hardest part of the cycle equation.
“On a triple you’ve got to stick it in the gap or down the line, let it kick off of something,” Clement said. “It’s hard to get a triple.”
It looked like Trahan’s bid to set a new school record for a hit streak came to an end when he popped out to short on the first pitch he saw in the seventh, but the Cajuns big rally gave him one more shot.
He came to the plate again to lead off the top of the eighth and hit a laser back up the box that looked destined for the outfield grass, but Jackson State second baseman Melvin Rodriguez made a leaping snag to rob him of history.
The 15 runs marked a new season high for the Cajuns, who benefitted from eight walks and five errors by the Tigers.
Freshman Wyatt Marks (3-0) entered the game in a high-pressure situation in the third inning after starter Greg Milhorn was forced to leave with an apparent groin injury with nobody out and the bases loaded.
But Marks limited the damage to one run and went on to pitch six two-hit innings, striking out six, to earn the win.
“I didn’t really think about it too much,” Marks said. “They called me in, just throw strikes and have your defense work behind you.”
It wasn’t so easy in the first game. The Tigers stormed back from a 5-3 deficit to take the lead with a three-run seventh inning, which was helped by a throwing error from reliever Will Bacon that scored a pair.
The Cajuns answered with a run in the eighth to tie it up, but they would need extra innings to decide it.
The Tigers had the go-ahead run at sevond base in the top of the 11th after Rodrighuez’ one-out double, but Dylan Moore (3-1) came on in relief of Chris Charpentier and got two quick outs to get out of the inning.
The Tigers’ relievers weren’t up to the task of matching Moore. A hit by pitch and two walks loaded the bases for Nick Thurman in the bottom of the 11th, and Thurman drilled a game-winning single into right field.
After the game, Robichaux said that he was “concerned” about Milhorn’s status.
“That area is not good for pitchers,” Robichaux said. “But we do have some season left. … We’ll just have to aggressively treat him and see if we can get him back.”
The Cajuns will go for the series sweep at 1 p.m. Sunday, weather permitting.