MOBILE, Ala. — Roommates are supposed to pick each other up, something that Louisiana-Lafayette coach Tony Robichaux encourages from his entire baseball team.
Matt Plitt took that task seriously here Saturday on what might have been the biggest pitch of the Ragin’ Cajuns’ season.
The senior right-hander threw one pitch in the eighth inning, inducing a ground-ball double play, and because of that, the second-ranked Cajuns are in the final of the Sun Belt tournament for the second straight year.
Plitt entered Saturday’s winners bracket game with one out in the eighth inning after Texas State cut UL-Lafayette’s 4-1 lead to 4-3 and had the tying and go-ahead runners on base.
“I knew my roommate was going to do it,” said Cajuns starter Cody Boutte, who had baffled the Bobcats through the first seven innings.
Sure enough, Plitt coaxed a ground ball from TSU’s Austin O’Neal, with shortstop Blake Trahan stepping on second base to retire Granger Studdard and throwing out O’Neal to end the inning.
Plitt then got the game-clinching outs in the ninth, getting a final fly out with the tying run at third base to ensure UL-Lafayette’s 4-3 win.
“It was just a fastball,” Plitt said of the eighth-inning pitch that helped put the Cajuns into Sunday’s 1 p.m. championship game against UT-Arlington. “Every time I pitch, I just work off the fastball. I’d watched Cody work the fastball the whole game.”
Plitt’s roommate kept Texas State under control through seven innings, scattering five hits and allowing only one runner to reach third base. Meanwhile, Caleb Adams’ one-out homer and Trahan’s two-out, two-run triple in the second gave UL-Lafayette a 3-0 lead.
“He got us off to a good start,” Robichaux said of Boutte (8-0), who had his second stellar outing against the Bobcats this season. “He settled in easily. He’s been very good the last month and a half.”
“We know he’s going to pound the zone and throw strikes,” Trahan said. “He’s going to throw strikes and he’s going to keep you ready.”
The senior left-hander from New Iberia and LSU-Eunice got 11 of his 21 outs on fly balls and pop-ups, and easily could have taken a shutout into the eighth inning.
Trahan had a slight bobble on Cody Lovejoy’s double-play ground ball in the third and was able only to get the out at first as Cody Perkins scored to make it 3-1.
Only two other Bobcats made it to second base, and Boutte retired seven in a row before Perkins’ leadoff single in the eighth.
“He’s very crafty,” veteran Texas State coach Ty Herrington said. “I don’t know how many fly balls we had, but it as a bunch. He has the ability to pitch above your hands, and it’s hard to roll that top hand over when he does that. He keeps you honest.”
“I normally get more ground balls,” Boutte said. “Today I was up ... it was a little frustrating. But I was able to slow them up with the change and speed them up with the fastball. I can tell the days that I’m gonna throw well. In the bullpen, the ball just flies out of my hand.”
Boutte threw six shutout innings against the Bobcats on April 27 in a 2-0 series-finale win.
“He’s been effective against so many teams,” Robichaux said. “He’s gotten so much better in our pitching system in his second year. His ability to go plus and minus, to change speeds on his fastball, that makes him good. Last year, his velocity difference was his breaking ball, but now he can change the fastball, and that can do an aggressive team in.”
The Bobcats got two runs in that eighth inning off Cajuns reliever Ryan Wilson on Garrett Mattlage’s RBI double and a wild pitch, and Wilson walked Studdard to put runners at the corners with one out. Robichaux called for Plitt, who had taken a line drive off his right ankle late in Wednesday’s 7-3 win over UL-Monroe.
“The first day it was bad,” Plitt said. “We treated it all day yesterday ... it wasn’t a problem today.”
“When Scoob (Wilson) came in, I had 100 percent confidence that he was gonna get them,” Boutte said. “He had one of those days, but that’s why we called on Matt and he did a great job.”
UT ARLINGTON 8, ARKANSAS STATE 7: Matt Shortall’s two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the eighth inning rallied the second-seeded Mavericks to the win in Saturday’s second tournament game. The victory sends UTA (33-25) into Sunday’schampionship game with the Ragin’ Cajuns on the nation’s third-longest winning streak at 10 games.
The third-seeded Red Wolves (32-27) came back from a 6-3 deficit with four runs in the seventh inning to take a 7-6 lead, but UTA’s Darien McLemore and Ryan Bottger drew two-out walks from ASU pitcher Morgan Croft, and Shortall drove an 0-1 pitch to the wall in right-center field to plate the eventual game-winning runs. Closer Chad Nack got three quick outs in the top of the ninth for his fourth save.
UTA, in its first year as a Sun Belt member, scored five runs in the second inning on doubles by Eric Tate, McLemore and Bottger to take a 5-2 lead.