LAKE CHARLES — Louisiana-Lafayette handed McNeese State an early lead with a poor effort in the field, and the Cowboys poured it on late to deal the Ragin’ Cajuns a 7-2 loss Wednesday night.
“We made a couple errors that gave them some cheap runs, and that let them settle in,” coach Tony Robichaux said.
The Cowboys (4-4) only had two hits in the first seven innings against the Cajuns (5-4), but they scored four runs on five hits in the bottom of the eighth inning against three relievers to blow the game open.
Cajuns sophomore right-hander Evan Guillory (0-2) was solid in five innings, striking out six and allowing just two hits, but he was the tough-luck loser after not getting much help from his teammates in the field.
The Cajuns committed four errors in the first four innings, allowing McNeese to take an 3-0 early lead.
“He could’ve went a little further, but if you make an error here or an error here, that’s what it does,” Robichaux said. “You might get out of an inning unscathed from scoring, but the problem you get is, it runs pitchers’ pitch counts up. We’ve got to do a better job than that ... on defense and stay in the ballgame.”
The Cowboys struck for two runs in the second inning, the second coming after shortstop Joe Robbins couldn’t handle a short hop off Will Fox’s bat with two outs.
Jacob Stracner reached base to lead off the third inning on an error by catcher Nick Thurman. He came around to score when Brenn Conrad couldn’t handle a grounder to third base.
Those three runs were plenty. For the second consecutive game, the Cajuns didn’t get much against the opposition’s left-handed starting pitcher.
Austin Sanders kept the Cajuns off the board for the first five innings, not allowing his first base runner until Derek Herrington singled with two outs in the third inning.
When the Cajuns did threaten, they failed to capitalize.
Robbins led off the fourth inning with a double and moved to third base on Conrad’s groundout to the right side of the infield.
But after a Stefan Trosclair walk, Dylon Poncho wasn’t able to get a fly ball deep enough to score Robbins, and Trosclair was thrown out trying to steal second base.
The Cajuns looked like they were on the verge of breaking the game open in the sixth inning, when Trosclair drilled a one-out single with runners in motion, scoring Trosclair and moving Conrad to third and chasing Sanders from the game.
The Cowboys brought in right-hander Trent Fontenot, and he immediately picked Trosclair off at first base. After a pair of walks loaded the bases, pinch hitter Steven Sensley grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.
“We never could do any damage,” Robichaux said. “We had our opportunities, we got picked off at first base. You can’t do that if you’re not going to be a high-scoring ballclub.”
In their first game without Kyle Clement, who will be out for several weeks as he recovers from a broken bone in his forearm, the Cajuns were never able to get anything going at the plate.
“We’ve got to find a way to do it and work through it, because guys like Clem, they’re out now,” Robichaux said. “Some other people are going to have to step up, and one-through-nine, we’ve got to get better offensively.”
Fontenot retired the side in order in each of the next two innings, and left-hander Ricky Ramirez worked around a pair of doubles in the ninth to preserve the win.
The Cajuns will return home this weekend for a three-game series against Sacred Heart, with first pitch scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday.