LAFAYETTE — After advancing only one runner past first base in the first six innings Sunday against impromptu starter Vincent Anthonia, the Louisiana-Lafayette baseball team erupted for a six-run seventh inning against the Jackson State bullpen to cruise to a 7-2 win and a series sweep.
Coach Tony Robichaux was not surprised to see his Ragin’ Cajuns (21-13) struggle at the plate the day after scoring 15 runs in the second game of a doubleheader against the Tigers (21-14).
“We hung in there,” he said. “We were able to win in all three different ways this weekend.”
What did surprise Robichaux was seeing Anthonia pitching in the first inning. Right-hander Alexander Juday was scheduled to throw Sunday, but he hurt himself during warmups, leading Tigers coach Omar Johnson to call for the left-handed Anthonia.
The Cajuns are no stranger to Anthonia. Not only did he throw in relief in Saturday’s doubleheader, he also fired six scoreless innings in last year’s Lafayette regional, playing a starring role in Jackson State’s 1-0 shutout win.
He had the same mojo going Sunday. He held the Cajuns hitless after Blake Trahan’s leadoff single in the first inning, and he only allowed four runners over the course of his six scoreless innings.
The Cajuns had their chances but were also on the wrong end of some bad luck — specifically Tyler Girouard, who entered the game as arguably the Cajuns’ hottest hitter. Trahan, batting one spot ahead of Girouard, drew one-out walks in the third and sixth innings, but each time Girouard hit into a double play.
He lined out so sharply to first base to end the third that Trahan didn’t even have an opportunity to lunge back to the bag. Then in the sixth, he hit one up the middle on a hit-and-run — directly where second baseman Melvin Rodriguez was moving to cover the bag.
The Cajuns finally were able to crack the Tigers’ code when they brought in hard-throwing but wild righty Jamal Wilson (2-3) to start the seventh.
“Whatever pitcher comes in behind (Anthonia), he better be Nolan Ryan,” Robichaux said. “Because it’s like a weight’s been taken off you when they saw that guy not running back out to the mound.”
The Cajuns got their offense going right away off Wilson, with back-to-back singles and a misplayed bunt loading the bases. Then Wilson’s control issues surfaced.
He walked Brenn Conrad on four pitches to score the first run, then allowed the tying run to score when he plunked Evan Powell.
He found the strike zone against No. 9 hitter Joe Robbins, but it might’ve been better not to. Robbins ripped the ball over the outstretched glove of Rodriguez for a two-run single to break the game open.
“We needed to come out there and break the game open,” Robichaux said. “Joe did that, and that was huge for us.”
Trahan capped the scoring in the inning with a rare two-run squeeze bunt, giving the Cajuns six runs on just three hits in the seventh. They tacked on another run without collecting a hit in the eighth.
Freshman starting pitcher Evan Guillory had what might have been his best outing of the year ... if it wasn’t for some pesky defensive miscues in the sixth.
Guillory only allowed two base runners through the first five innings, striking out five in the process and keeping the Cajuns in the game while they struggled against Anthonia.
He ran into a little trouble in the sixth, thanks to a pair of throwing errors, and he allowed a two-out, two-run single to right-center, but that was all the Tigers could manage.
Colton Lee (1-2) and Dylan Moore allowed just one base runner in three scoreless innings out of the bullpen to preserve the Cajuns’ sixth consecutive win.
“I thought the pitchers did a great job of keeping the game there, so that when we would score, it would matter, and it did,” Robichaux said.
The Cajuns start a four-game week with a home matchup against Southeastern on Tuesday before hitting the road for a three-game Sun Belt Conference series against Texas State starting Friday.