TROY, Ala. — Before their gloves betrayed them in the ninth inning of their 8-7 loss to Texas State on the first day of the Sun Belt Conference tournament, the UL-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns had something pretty good going with their bats.
They knocked the ball around against the Bobcats pitchers, collecting 11 hits and stranding only four base runners.
Three of those 11 hits went for doubles, and another two left the yard entirely. Junior second baseman Stefan Trosclair launched his 14th homer of the year over a high right-field wall, and Evan Powell may have outdone him by hitting a screamer out to dead center.
“We felt good coming out of the Monroe series,” said coach Tony Robichaux. “The hitters were starting to swing the bat good again.”
They chased Texas State starter Lucas Humpal out of the game by the fourth inning after leading off with four consecutive hits — and they weren’t cheap, either. Powell started with his home run, followed by a sharp single from Greg Davis, followed by a double off the wall by Dylan Butler, followed by a double in the right-field corner by Blake Trahan.
They gave ace pitcher Gunner Leger some runs to work with for the second straight game after a string of games in which Leger received minimal run support. Leger needed them, as he had an uncharacteristically average day, giving up four runs in 5.2 innings.
“We worked well as an offense today,” Trahan said. “Gunner gave up a three-run bomb and we told him we were going to have his back. He’s had our back all season, we had his back today. We just didn’t finish.”
Trahan entered the tournament amid one of the worst offensive stretches of his career, going 8-for-49 in the final 12 games of the regular season.
But he might’ve found a cure against Texas State.
Trahan had hits in his first three at-bats, one of which was a sinking two-run double to the right field corner that gave the Cajuns a 6-3 lead. It was only his second multiple-hit game since April 25.
Trahan dismissed the performance and the slump in general, saying, “that’s just hitting.”
The important part, he said, is for him to continue executing his duties as the leadoff hitter.
“Just try to get on (base) for my team,” Trahan said. “Every time I get in the box, I try to get on for the big guys behind me. “
Leger had a streak of his own going into the tournament, except this was one that he wanted to keep going as long as he could.
He hadn’t walked a batter in 35 consecutive innings, the last of which came against the leadoff batter in the Texas State series.
That streak ended at 38.2 innings when he walked Bobcats cleanup man Tanner Hill with two outs in the fourth inning.
As if he needed any reminder as to why he avoids walks in the first place, Hill eventually came around to score on David Paiz’s three-run home run.
Sometimes hindsight demands a seemingly insignificant point in a game to be circled in red ink after the fact. That three-run fourth inning might be one of those times.
The Cajuns didn’t hit into a single out that inning, rather making all their outs on the bases.
Trahan was thrown out at third base trying to extend his two-run double into a triple. Then Brenn Conrad was caught stealing after a walk and Kyle Clement suffered the exact same fate.
With the help of hindsight, the Cajuns could’ve potentially had a bases-loaded, nobody-out situation with Trosclair at the plate.
Then again, maybe that scenario never would’ve played out. The Cajuns are an aggressive team at the plate and on the bases, and they usually live with the mistakes because they can generate so much other good with their aggression.
But in a game they lost in heartbreaking fashion by one run, that potential missed opportunity looks more important than it did originally.