LAFAYETTE — In order to win its seventh consecutive game, the Louisiana-Lafayette baseball team had to do more with less against UNO.
“We had to,” coach Tony Robichaux said. “We only got four hits. But that also proves to you that you have to pitch and play defense.
The Cajuns (29-15) finished with more runs (six) than base hits (four) in their 6-3 win against the Privateers (14-30). It didn’t hurt that six of the seven Cajuns pitchers who threw Wednesday night hung zeroes on the scoreboard, and the team extended its streak to 41 consecutive innings without an error.
Tied 3-3 going into the bottom of the sixth, the Cajuns pushed the go-ahead run across on junior outfielder Dylan Butler’s fielder’s choice, and tacked on an insurance run in the eighth when Butler scored on another fielder’s choice.
With the lead in hand, Chris Charpentier (4-3), Reagan Bazar and Dylan Moore combined to shut down the UNO offense over the last three innings.
Bazar’s performance was particularly impressive, as the right-hander touched 99 miles per hour on the stadium’s radar gun while setting down the side on 13 pitches in a perfect eighth inning.
“He comes out and our big challenge was to not have a 27, 30-pitch inning,” Robichaux said. “You want to get anywhere from 11-to-13, 11-to-15. That means you’re throwing strikes. Tonight he had a 13-pitch inning and command of the strike zone — in, out, up and down.”
Dylan Moore fired a perfect ninth inning to record his seventh save of the season.
Nobody embodied the more-with-less theme than Butler, who scored three times and drove in one more despite going 0-for-3 at the plate.
“Coach always says there’s no easy way to win, there’s no right way to win,” Butler said. “Whatever we do to get a W, that’s all that matters.”
Butler owed some of his success to a little help from the Privateers in the second inning, when he hit a catchable blooper into the grass in shallow right field. UNO second baseman had a bead on the ball, but it popped off the heel of his glove and Butler was safe at first.
The next batter, Greg Davis, hit a ground ball back up the middle and Butler turned on his jets, not even bothering to look at third base coach Jeremy Talbot for a signal before wheeling all the way around to third base.
“One of our philosophies is ‘We are the extra base,’ ” Butler said. “On a hard hit ball, just to maybe get the inning going, just don’t stop, don’t hesitate, there’s one out so I wasn’t making the third out at third (base).”
His gamble paid off, as Evan Powell plated the first run of the game with a sacrifice fly to center field.
But he didn’t just get it done offensively. Butler also saved at least one run with a phenomenal full-extension diving catch to strand a pair of Privateers in the fifth inning.
“It was split second,” he said. “I knew if I didn’t get to that ball it was going to be a big inning. I tried as hard as I could and laid out as far as I could. Luckily I got to it.”
It looked like the Cajuns were going into cruise control when No. 9 hitter Derek Herrington crushed a two-run homer, his second of the year, to give the Cajuns a 3-0 cushion in the fifth, but the Cajuns staff hit a hiccup the next half inning.
Though sophomore reliever Connor Toups had them down to their last strike on three separate occasions, the Privateers tied the game with a three-run two-out rally that was punctuated by back-to-back doubles to chase Toups from the game.
It wasn’t the doubles that hurt Toups, but the two-out walk he issued immediately before them against a batter he jumped ahead of 1-2.
“We’ve got to get out of that three-run inning,” Robichaux said. “Connor’s got two outs right there, he’s got a guy 1-2 go to 2-2 and the inevitable two-out walk. It always comes back to haunt you.”
The Cajuns turned to Charpentier, who got out of the inning on the first pitch he threw. Charpentier was rewarded with the win when the Cajuns rallied in the bottom of the inning.
The Privateers didn’t find much breathing room from there, putting just one runner on base in the final three innings.
The Cajuns will look to keep their winning streak alive on the road against Sun Belt Conference newcomer Appalachian State this weekend.