HOUSTON — Despite a rough start to the season at the plate, Louisiana-Lafayette’s Stefan Trosclair wasn’t pressing to make the big play in the eighth inning of a tie game Sunday night against Rice in Minute Maid Park.
He was looking for a good pitch to hit. He saw one immediately, so he swung.
Trosclair unloaded on the first pitch he saw from Rice left-hander Blake Fox, sending it on a high-arcing collision course with the foul pole in left field. The two-run homer put the Ragin’ Cajuns in front for good and snapped a three-game losing skid with a 4-2 win in the Houston College Classic.
“That’s him,” coach Tony Robichaux said. “He’s a big pattern hitter. He’ll watch what pitchers are doing and, as the game wears on, he’ll get up there and sit on something. He sat on a changeup and got it out of the ballpark for us.”
Before that at-bat, Trosclair was hitting just .115 with more strikeouts (seven) than base hits (three). The 2015 Sun Belt Conference home run champion also was looking for his first long ball of the year.
Fox had carved up the Cajuns (4-3) for the majority of the night, but his defense failed him late. An error on third baseman Dane Meyers allowed Brenn Conrad to reach base in front of Trosclair, and when Fox served up one of his few mistake pitches of the night, Trosclair was ready to take advantage.
“Baseball’s a tough game,” Trosclair said. “You’re going to fail. You just keep coming, going up to the plate and having good at-bats, good things will happen. I was just looking for something good to hit out over the plate. I got it, and it worked out.”
His home run came just in time to give Nick Lee (1-0) his first career win, and the freshman right-hander deserved it. Outside of a rough second inning, Lee was spectacular.
After an RBI double gave Rice (3-5) a 2-1 lead in the second inning, Lee retired 17 of his final 20 batters, striking out five and allowing just four hits. He threw 90 pitches in seven strong innings.
Early in the game, Lee was having trouble locating his off-speed pitches for strikes, allowing the Rice lineup to sit on his fastball.
“Early in the game, I kept throwing (my slider) in the dirt and couldn’t get it over for a strike early in the count,” Lee said. “Once I found it and got it over for strikes, the game went a lot smoother for me.”
Junior right-hander Jevin Huval fired two scoreless innings of relief to earn his first career save.
As had been the case for most of the weekend, it was Joe Robbins in the thick of things when the Cajuns offense was producing early in Sunday’s game.
He led the game off with a double down the left-field line and scored a few pitches later on Trosclair’s ground ball to the right side, giving the Cajuns a 1-0 lead just three batters into the game.
The Cajuns were trailing 2-1 when Robbins came to the plate with two outs and Brian Mills at first in the fifth inning. After Mills’ second stolen base of the night put him in scoring position, Robbins lined a single back up the middle to bring home Mills and tie the score.
Robbins hit for the series cycle while going 6-for-12 in Houston this weekend. He and Lee were the Cajuns’ representatives on the all-tournament team.
TCU and Arkansas both went 3-0 on the weekend, but TCU was named tournament champion because of its absurd plus-25 run differential. (Arkansas finished plus-16.) Arkansas shortstop Michael Bernal hit three homers over the weekend to earn Most Outstanding Player honors.
After going 1-3 away from M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field this week, the Cajuns return to their home field to play four of their five games this week, including a Tuesday night matchup against the University of New Orleans.