LAKE CHARLES — This pillow fight had an early curfew.
Exactly a month earlier, McNeese State and UL-Lafayette took turns whiffing on haymaker attempts in a 17-inning game. Tuesday night, it looked like they were well on their way toward another one of those games — until Stefan Trosclair ripped a go-ahead two-out double in the top of the 11th inning of the Cajuns’ 6-5 win.
Freshman right-hander Dylan Moore fired a scoreless 11th inning to record his third save. It was the fifth time in the Cajuns’ last six games the outcome was decided by one run.
“It’s helped us,” coach Tony Robichaux said. “When you get in close games at first, you can get spooked by it. ... This time we came back and we got the big out when we needed it, and I think that comes from experience.”
The game-winning rally emerged out of thin air. Ahead in the count 0-2 with two outs already, Cowboys reliever Austin Briggs plunked Cajuns catcher Nick Thurman. His next pitch was ripped into the left-field corner by Trosclair.
“I was looking for something out over the plate, and I got it,” Trosclair said. “I put a good swing on it. I was hoping it would kick around in the corner.”
Thurman isn’t known for his speed, but he used every bit of it to score from first base.
“Adrenaline can do lots of things,” Thurman said. “It can even make me fast.”
Robichaux said coach Jeremy Talbot was sending Thurman no matter what, and it would’ve taken a perfect throw to get him at the plate. The throw was up the line, and Thurman scored easily.
“Thank God that’s the fastest Thurmy’s ever run,” Robichaux said.
The Cajuns (13-8) scored the final five runs of the game thanks to a standout effort from their bullpen. Moore combined with Will Bacon, Colton Lee and Chris Charpentier (1-2) to strike out 11 in eight scoreless innings of relief.
The Cowboys got a great relief performance from Collin Kober, who struck out six in four scoreless innings before giving way to Briggs in the 11th.
But before the two bullpens fired up zeroes, there was a lot of offense and missed opportunities.
The Cowboys (16-9) didn’t hit the ball hard off Cajuns starter Wyatt Marks, but they found the right spots and tagged him for five runs in three innings.
Leadoff hitter Andrew Guillotte was awarded a double after his high fly ball found the perfect landing spot between second base, center field and right field. He advanced to third on Joe Provenzano’s high chopper to first base.
Guillotte bolted for home when McNeese first baseman Connor Crane hit a hard shot to Brenn Conrad at third base. Conrad fired home, but the throw hit Guillotte and rolled into foul territory, allowing Crane to motor into second.
Crane scored on Connor Lloyd’s single to center field to give the Cowboys a 2-0 lead after the first inning.
The Cajuns looked primed to respond right away. Thurman singled into right-center field on the first pitch of the second inning and scored when a McNeese throwing error nixed what would’ve been an inning-ending double play.
Cowboys starter Cory LaPeze walked the next two batters — the Nos. 8 and 9 batters of the Cajuns order — to bring up All-American Blake Trahan with the bases loaded. But Trahan watched strike three to end the inning.
The Cajuns had another chance in the third, when Thurman went first to third on Stefan Trosclair’s two-out single to left field, but Joe Robbins struck out swinging on three pitches to end the inning.
The Cowboys took advantage of their chances in the bottom of the third, and it was Guillotte starting things off again with an infield single. He then used his speed to score from first on Provenzano’s double to left-center field.
The Cowboys scored their third run of the inning when, with runners on first and third, Marks made a throwing error on a squeeze play. Marks would’ve easily thrown the runner out at the plate, but he spiked the throw into the turf.
But the Cajuns weren’t finished, thanks largely to right fielder Dylan Butler, who socked a two-run homer in the top of the fourth, then knocked in the tying run the next inning with an RBI single.
The Cajuns play at home Wednesday for the first time since March 8 with a game against Nicholls State.
Before the game, McNeese officially credited Robichaux with the Cowboys 19 wins from the 1987 season, when Robichaux served as the head coach in every capacity but title … Nick Thurman was named to the Johnny Bench Award watch list Tuesday, which is given annually to the nation’s top catcher … Lake Charles native Kennon Fontenot was given the start at second base Tuesday. It’s the first start since Feb. 21 for the freshman out of Barbe High School … Trahan extended his hitting streak to 12 games … Freshman outfielder Jam Williams did not make the trip after he was involved in a minor traffic accident Tuesday morning. Robichaux said Williams should be fine Wednesday.