LAFAYETTE — When University of Louisiana at Lafayette starter Greg Milhorn left the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader after seven sterling innings, it meant the series winner would be determined by who had the better bullpen.
That might have been a scary thought considering what happened the previous weekend for the Cajuns, when their bullpen was tagged for 13 runs (nine earned) in a three-game series against UTSA.
But the Cajuns (4-3) ’pen was up to the task against Stony Brook (2-4), with five pitchers combining to allow just one unearned run in 13.1 innings in the three-game series, including two scoreless, hitless innings from Dylan Moore (1-0) in the Cajuns’ 2-1 series-clinching win Saturday.
“That’s a lot of zeroes,” coach Tony Robichaux said. “The bullpen really threw well, we got two out of three, and I’m glad that we were able to come back and respond.”
The bullpen might have had to throw even more zeroes had it not been for third baseman Tyler Girouard, who ripped a single into center field in the bottom of the eighth in the nightcap to score the go-ahead run.
With first base open and right-hander Cameron Stone on the mound, the Seawolves opted to set up the force play and intentionally walked right-handed hitter Greg Davis to bring the left-handed Girouard to the plate.
After taking a first-pitch curveball, Girouard said he figured he’d be getting a fastball next.
“I was ready for it,” Girouard said.
Girouard took the pitch right back up the middle, and Brian Mills, who led the Cajuns with three hits in the twin bill, raced around from second to put the Cajuns ahead.
The Cajuns were only in the game because of a great effort from Milhorn, who did not allow a hit until the fifth inning. With the wind blowing in and his fastball going where he wanted it to, Milhorn said he didn’t even throw a breaking ball until “the fourth or fifth inning.”
“He pitched in the strike zone with movement,” Robichaux said. “That’s the difference maker.”
Miller took the ball from Milhorn and barely let the Seawolves sniff the basepaths, his only blemish coming in the form of a two-out walk in the eighth. The true freshman has a late hitch in his delivery that makes the ball difficult to pick up the first time you see him.
“He throws with a little bit of herky-jerkiness, if you will,” Robichaux said. “He’s got a little bit of funkiness with him.”
Stony Brook starting pitcher Daniel Zamora made sure that the Cajuns would not earn a series sweep in the first game of Saturday’s double-header, and he got some help from early pitching and defensive miscues in the Cajuns 4-1 loss.
Zamora’s pitch placement perfectly coincided with a wide strike zone from home plate umpire Myron Miller to keep the Cajuns off-balance. Zamora (1-0) threw first-pitch strikes to 12 of the first 13 batters he faced and did not allow a base runner until Greg Davis’ opposite field single with two down in the fourth.
Things did not go as smoothly for Cajuns starter Chris Charpentier (0-2), who lasted only two innings as he struggled with his command.
After Charpentier walked away unscathed despite two walks in the first inning, Stony Brook got to him in the second. The Seawolves ripped back-to-back singles to open up the inning. And by the end of the second inning, they’d scored three runs on a squeeze bunt, a base hit and an error.
“I wish I had something else to say, but we’ve got to pitch away from a three-run inning,” Robichaux said. “When you do that, I’m telling you, go do the research, you’re going to win ballgames.”
Will Bacon and Nick Zaunbrecher kept the Cajuns within striking distance with seven standout innings in relief, allowing just one more run on back-to-back errors in the third inning. But the Cajuns were never able to crack Zamora and reliever Teddy Rodliff, who limited the Cajuns lineup to just five hits and one run.