LAFAYETTE — UL-Lafayette baseball coach Tony Robichaux is fond of saying baseball has a way of paying you back.
That’s what Greg Davis, hitless in his first five at-bats, kept telling himself as he strode to the plate with two outs and a runner in scoring position in the bottom of the 11th inning Friday — that, and one other thing.
“I set my approach on going up the middle,” Davis said.
Davis fought a pitch off his hands into shallow center field to easily score pinch runner Jam Williams from second base, giving the Cajuns a dramatic 6-5 win over Troy in the Sun Belt conference opener. It was UL-Lafayette’s fourth straight win.
“The game will find a person who is struggling a little bit and put them in that big situation,” Davis said. “I had a chance earlier to end the game ... but the game kept putting me there.”
Dylan Moore (2-0) was dominant in relief, striking out five in 2.1 perfect innings. He came on in the ultimate high-pressure situation, with two outs and the bases loaded in the ninth inning of a tie game, and he struck out No. 3 hitter Logan Hill looking.
“That’s why we come out here every day,” Moore said through a faceful of shaving cream after teammate Evan Powell nailed him with a shaving cream pie.
It didn’t look like the Cajuns (8-5, 1-0 Sun Belt) were going to be in the game early. Freshman pitcher Evan Guillory didn’t even need all of his fingers to count the number of pitches it took for him to fall in a three-run hole.
Leadoff man Clay Holcomb ripped the second pitch he saw into left field for a single, then took off to steal second base on the next pitch. Cajuns catcher Nick Thurman chucked his throw into center field, allowing Holcomb to scoot into third.
Nick Masonia ripped the next pitch over shortstop Blake Trahan’s head for an RBI single, and after falling behind 0-2, center fielder Logan Hill hit a towering home run over the wall in left field to cap a three-run lightning strike for Troy (7-6, 0-1).
That entire rally lasted all of nine pitches, and it was enough for coach Tony Robichaux to get his bullpen moving.
But Guillory settled down and got out of the inning. He also had an offense waiting to help him out in a big way.
“Guillory got bum-rushed,” Robichaux said. “He could’ve stayed on his heels, but he bunkered down and hung in there for us. The hitters came back and answered.”
The Cajuns jumped all over Trojans freshman Corey Childress, who came into the game with a 1.35 ERA in three previous starts.
Trahan led off the Cajuns first by pulling a stand-up double down the left field line, and he scored when Brenn Conrad hit the first pitch he saw back up the middle for a single.
After a pair of wild pitches moved Conrad all the way to third base, he scored on Tyler Girouard’s slow roller to shortstop.
Thurman atoned for his error when he tied the game with an opposite-field shot over the left-field wall, his first home run of the season.
With the offense getting his back, Guillory locked into a zone. He cruised through most of the next four innings, with his only blemish coming when he allowed a two-out home run to Trevin Hall in the third inning.
Once again, the offense had his back.
Already with two doubles in his first two at bats, Trahan unloaded on a 2-2 pitch from Childress in the bottom of the fourth, wrapping a two-run go-ahead moonshot just inside the left-field foul pole.
The one-run lead seemed like it would be plenty for the Cajuns — especially with the way reliever Colton Lee was going. Lee came on in the sixth inning and nearly shut the Trojans down from there.
In 3.2 innings of work, Lee recorded nine strikeouts, including a stetch in the seventh and eighth innings where he struck out five in a row.
Robichaux left Lee out to close the game in the ninth inning, but a fatiguing Lee started to lose command of his pitches. He gave up a leadoff single when Hall’s comebacker bounced off his foot, and Hall moved into scoring position when Lee uncorked a wild pitch.
After Trojans second baseman Matt Sanders failed to get a bunt down, Hall wheeled around to tie the game on T.J. Binder’s RBI single. Lee sandwiched a strikeout between a walk and a Trahan error before yielding the ball to Moore.