LAFAYETTE — The performance Saturday night was similar to some of the best pitching outings all year for Louisiana-Lafayette.
Unfortunately for the Ragin’ Cajuns, that performance came from Texas State right-hander Taylor Black, who held down the hosts most of the night and guided the Bobcats to an easy 10-3 win over the second-ranked Cajuns.
Black (4-4) faced two over the minimum through six innings, finishing with eight strikeouts in eight innings, and his teammates gave him more than enough support with 10 runs in a four-inning span.
“The thing he had tonight, his breaking ball he had full command,” said Texas State coach Ty Harrington, whose team evened the weekend series. “What he did with the breaking ball was way above average for him. His secret is pitching below the barrel of the bat, and he did a good job of that.”
Black gave up a leadoff homer to Cajuns outfielder Caleb Adams in the second, then retired 12 in a row and 15 of 16. The sinker-ball pitcher had nine groundball outs in the first five innings.
“Normally we see that kind of a pitching performance from guys in our uniforms,” said UL-Lafayette associate head coach Anthony Babineaux. “He did a good job of commanding all his pitches. We hit some balls hard; we just gave up too much early.”
Babineaux did postgame interviews after head coach Tony Robichaux was ejected for arguing a call at first base in the fourth inning, a call that allowed Texas State’s fifth run of the inning to score.
By that time, the Bobcats (24-19, 12-8 Sun Belt) had already taken a 3-1 lead on the Cajuns (38-6, 17-3), with Tyler Pearson tripling home Ben McElroy with one out in the second and scoring himself on a wild pitch by Cajuns starter Carson Baranik (8-1). After Adams launched his 10th homer of the season to cut the difference to 3-1, Trey Hicks drove home Granger Studdard with a two-out single in the third.
Then, in the fourth, Baranik walked leadoff hitter Cody Perkins, and Cory Geisler followed with a line-drive homer over the left-field wall to make it 5-1. An RBI double by pinch hitter Cameron Friess plated another run, and Tanner Hill’s sacrifice fly brought home the fourth.
Trey Hicks then had an infield single that was originally called an out by first-base umpire Roger Faulks. After Harrington argued the call and an umpire meeting, the ruling was reversed, which allowed Friess to score the fifth run. Robichaux was ejected by plate umpire Don Hudson moments later for arguing the reversal.
Baranik allowed nine hits and six runs in 3.1 innings. Relievers Chris Griffitt and Ben Carter also struggled, with Griffitt not recording an out and Carter allowing a two-run homer to Garrett Mattlage in the fifth for Texas State’s final two runs.
Reliever Reagan Bazar pitched the final four innings and allowed only two hits as the Cajuns lost a Saturday game for the first time this season.
“Carson left some pitches up,” Babineaux said. “Give big credit to Reagan for putting up some zeros. We just had too much of a deficit to overcome.”
UL-Lafayette managed an unearned run in the seventh when Jace Conrad reached on right fielder Colby Targun’s dropped fly ball and scored on Tyler Girouard’s one-out single. Conrad also had and RBI single in the eighth after Ryan Leonards’ two-out double.
The Cajuns put the first two runners on base in the ninth on hits by Girouard and Seth Harrison before reliever Dylan Bein came on to record three straight outs.
The teams will play the rubber game of the series at 1 p.m. Sunday. UL-Lafayette has won 10 straight series this year — six of them in Sun Belt play, including four sweeps.