TROY, Ala. — After spotting Troy a four-run lead after the first inning, the Cajuns needed to hang a crooked number or two on the scoreboard to keep their season alive.
They got three of them — including a six-run explosion in the second inning — while Greg Milhorn and the bullpen kept the Trojan bats at bay for the remainder of the Cajuns’ 12-8 win.
“They jumped us early,” said coach Tony Robichaux. “We tried to slow them down all we could, but they came out swinging. We were able to get to the pen, get to Greg, and Greg did an outstanding job.
“You bring in a pitcher to change the momentum of the game, and without Greg’s outing today, I don’t think we can come back.”
The Cajuns will send freshman Evan Guillory to the mound Friday against the loser of Thursday’s late game between UT-Arlington and Texas State.
UL-Lafayette plays again at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
Less than a day removed from blowing a three-run lead with two outs in the ninth inning against Texas State, things could not have started much worse for the Cajuns.
They jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, but surrendered it three batters into the bottom of the frame, when Trojans right fielder Logan Hill took starter Wyatt Marks for a three-run ride over the 27-foot wall in right field.
Marks got the next batter to hit a ground ball to third base, but Brenn Conrad bobbled it and allowed him to reach on an error.
Two batters later, Troy second baseman Nick Masonia made the Cajuns pay for Conrad’s error with a two-run home run to left field.
Marks recorded just one out before Robichaux pulled him from the game in favor of Milhorn (3-1), who promptly struck out two batters to end the inning.
The Cajuns looked like they’d punched their ticket to an early postseason exit.
Half an inning later, they had a lead.
Greg Davis started it with a two-run home run to left-center field to cut Troy’s lead to two. Blake Trahan reached on a walk, then raced around to score from first base on Conrad’s double to deep center field.
Another walk brought Stefan Trosclair to the plate with two on. Troy starter Grant Bennett (9-4) grooved a fastball.
“I was just trying to get a good swing on it,” Trosclair said.
He did. The ball easily cleared the left-field fence, a three-run exclamation point on a furious six-run rally that put the Cajuns back in the driver’s seat.
With Milhorn at the wheel, they weren’t about to give up their spot.
Milhorn only allowed one hit as he struck out six batters in 4.2 innings of relief. Robichaux originally intended to try to hold him for starting duties, but Wednesday’s loss and Marks’ first-inning troubles forced his hand.
“I didn’t really know when I was gonna throw,” Milhorn said. “I was just gonna be prepared for whatever. And coach told me before the game to be ready. So when he sent me down there, I threw probably five or six (bullpen warmup pitches) off the mound. I knew I was gonna get eight out there on the field, so I felt fine.”
Milhorn breezed through the Trojans lineup, allowing only two batters to advance past first base.
As he kept hanging zeroes on the scoreboard, the offense kept backing him up with more runs.
“He came in and changed the momentum, and then the hitters fed off him and we got going,” Robichaux said.
The Cajuns scored three runs on four hits in the fourth inning, powered by back-to-back doubles from Kyle Clement and Stefan Trosclair, then added two more in the sixth on a Clement single and a Tyler Girouard double.
Troy picked up three late runs off the Cajuns bullpen, but there’d be no ninth inning collapse this time, Will Bacon made sure of it.
The junior reliever got the Cajuns out of a jam in the eighth inning, then worked around a two-out double to strike out the side in the ninth and earn his second save of the season.