Cajuns baseball: New look on the infield could be a long-term fit; LHP Hogan Harris to start Tuesday _lowres

Advocate photo by Buddy Delahoussaye-- Louisiana-Lafayette infielder Joe Robbins (12) throws to first base for the warm ups during an NCAA baseball game between the UL Ragin Cajuns and Sam Houston State on Saturday Feb. 20, 2016.

LAFAYETTE — It may not have been totally intentional, but Louisiana-Lafayette baseball coach Tony Robichaux may have found his starting infield for the foreseeable future.

With Brad Antchak coming down with what Robichaux called the flu before Sunday’s game against Rice, Robichaux opted to start Joe Robbins at shortstop.

That move corresponded with some other infield shifting as Brenn Conrad shifted to Robbins’ spot at third base, Stefan Trosclair moved from first to second base and Alex Pinero filled in at first base.

“I think the big onus is putting Trosclair back at second and putting Joe at short. That’s older guys,” Robichaux said. “It gives us an older, more arrogant infield. Really, our two losses in here came on having youngness at shortstop.”

Both Antchak and freshman Hunter Kasuls committed crucial errors that played a large part in the Ragin’ Cajuns losses to TCU and Texas Tech on Friday and Saturday in Houston. But outside of a ninth-inning throwing error by Trosclair, Sunday’s infield handled its duties well.

The Robbins move was especially interesting considering the struggles the Cajuns had Friday and Saturday at shortstop. Robbins originally came to the Cajuns as a shortstop, but thanks to the rise of former All-American Blake Trahan, he has spent his career as a sort of super utilityman.

He has started at three positions — shortstop, third base and center field — in seven games this season and is also Robichaux’s emergency catcher. Sunday’s game was his first start at shortstop since 2013, his freshman year. He converted all six opportunities he had in the field, including a couple of difficult plays.

“We trust Joe anywhere, man,” Trosclair said. “We can put him behind the plate, we can put him in center, we can put him at short — he’s confident wherever he is, and I trust him no matter where he’s at. It’s great to have that kind of player on your team — no matter where you put him, he’s going to come through.”

Harris to get first start

With a five-game week on the docket, Robichaux decided to give freshman left-hander Hogan Harris the first start of his career for Tuesday’s game against the University of New Orleans.

Harris, who played his high school ball at St. Thomas More, has been impressive in two appearances out of the bullpen. He struck out five of the seven Texas Tech batters he faced Saturday before yielding the mound to closer Dylan Moore with two outs in the eighth inning. He also earned a save in his first appearance in a Cajuns uniform, striking out two in 2.2 innings Feb. 20 against Sam Houston State.

The Privateers, who are 6-1 under new coach Blake Dean, will counter with left-hander Bryan Warzek. Warzek struggled with his control in his lone appearance this season, walking five in 3.1 innings.

Right-hander Evan Guillory, the Cajuns’ usual midweek starter, will get the nod for Wednesday’s game at McNeese State.

In the polls

A 1-3 week did some damage to the Cajuns’ rankings, though they stayed in the Top 25 in all but one poll.

They fell eight spots to No. 24 in the D1Baseball.com poll, nine spots to No. 17 in the Perfect Game poll and six spots to No. 16 in the Baseball America poll.

Collegiate Baseball did not include the Cajuns in its ranking despite the fact that the Cajuns were ranked No. 6 in its poll last week.