SAN ANTONIO — For the second time in the three-game weekend series, Louisiana-Lafayette’s young pitching staff struggled — and Texas-San Antonio took advantage.
Five Ragin’ Cajuns pitchers issued eight walks, and the Roadrunners also got come clutch hitting in taking an 11-5 victory Sunday in the rubber game of the season-opening series.
The Cajuns (1-2) outhit UTSA 11-7, getting double-figure hits for the third straight game. But the Roadrunners put up three runs in the fifth inning and six more in the sixth to break open a back-and-forth game.
UL-Lafayette starter Greg Milhorn struggled with control and walked four batters in three innings, and reliever Logan Stoelke walked three more. In between, reliever Eric Carter gave up three runs in the fifth inning when UTSA (2-1) took the lead for good.
“We had too many guys tip-toeing around the plate,” said Cajuns coach Tony Robichaux, whose team lost a regular-season series for the first time since 2013. “That’s what young arms are going to do. We’ve gotta keep trying to get them to understand that pitching ahead in the count is the critical thing at this level.”
The Cajuns used 13 pitchers over the weekend — eight of them making their collegiate debut, including three of Sunday’s five hurlers.
UTSA trailed 3-2 before the three-run fifth inning, but the biggest daggers for the Cajuns came one inning later, when Geonte Jackson belted a leadoff home run off Stoekle. Trent Bowles then reached on an error and Stoelke gave up two walks before freshman Wyatt Marks came on in relief. UTSA designated hitter Mitchell Matulia greeted him rudely, clearing the bases with a double off the right-field wall that made it a 9-4 game.
A two-out double by Joe Robbins and Kyle Clement’s RBI single cut it to 9-5 in the eighth, but Matt Hilston launched a two-run homer with no outs in the eighth off Cajuns reliever Reagan Bazar for the final margin.
“We have to be able to give our hitters a chance,” Robichaux said. “We could have kept it at 6-4 with a ground ball there and we didn’t get it. That’s going to happen right now. ... I’ve coached pitchers long enough not to get frustrated. The more these guys go out there, the better they’ll get.”
Blake Trahan’s leadoff double and a throwing error gave the Cajuns a 1-0 first-inning lead, and Derek Herrington and Stefan Trosclair — both newcomers from LSU-Eunice — had solo homers to lead off the third and fourth innings. UTSA had matched the first two runs with Kevin Markham’s first-inning homer and Tyler Straub’s sacrifice fly that scored Markham in the third.
Sacrifice flies by John Bormann and Skyler Valentine sandwiched a two-run double by Straub in the three-run fifth, but the Cajuns cut it to 5-4 when Trosclair doubled and eventually scored on a rundown play in the sixth.
“I’m proud of our hitters this weekend,” associate head coach Anthony Babineaux said. “We had a lot of good at-bats today. They just turned out to be solo home runs, and (UTSA) got a couple of big hits with runners on base.”
Reliever Patrick Herbelin (1-0), who picked up a save in Friday’s 8-5 UTSA win, pitched the final 4.2 innings for the Roadrunners and scattered six hits while fanning five. Carter (0-1) got the loss in relief in the three-run fifth.
UL-Lafayette, which travels to Natchitoches for a 6 p.m. Wednesday game against Northwestern State, had taken an 8-2 win Saturday at UTSA. The Cajuns had 11 or more hits in each of the three games, and Trahan, Trosclair and second baseman Brenn Conrad each had two hits on Sunday.
“It’s a tough teach right now,” Robichaux said. “We wanted to come over here and play a lot of guys and throw a lot of arms. We wanted to get them in when it matters so that down the road in conference games, they will have been in that situation before.”