LAFAYETTE — The situation couldn’t have been more pressure-packed for sophomore reliever Chris Charpentier, who entered in the eighth inning of a tie game with one out and the bases loaded.
But if the pressure got to Charpentier on Saturday afternoon against Arkansas State, he didn’t show it. He struck out both batters he faced to preserve the tie and his offense scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth to vault the Cajuns to a 9-6 win against Arkansas State. Charpentier pitched a perfect ninth inning to seal the win.
“You can’t think about the situation,” said Charpentier, who evened his record to 2-2. “You’ve just got to stick to what the game plan is. As a reliever, you have to come in and get the first batter out and change the momentum of the game.”
The Cajuns (14-10, 6-4 Sun Belt) took the lead for good in the eighth thanks to a critical error by Arkansas State (11-13, 3-7).
Back-to-back singles by Stefan Trosclair and Brian Mills — who were batting in the top two spots in the order Saturday — brought up Blake Trahan with runners at first and second with one out.
Trahan hit what should’ve been a tailor-made double-play ball to shortstop Jeremy Brown — but Brown let it roll between his legs, allowing Trosclair to wheel around for the go-ahead run.
The Cajuns scored two more runs in the inning — one on a passed ball on a suicide squeeze attempt and another on an RBI groundout.
UL-Lafayette scored seven runs over the final three innings.
The way things started, you couldn’t have blamed the Cajuns if they started feeling a little déjà vu.
A day after the Red Wolves scored five of their first seven runs with two outs in a 10-4 series opening win, they ripped four consecutive hits in the top of the first inning against Cajuns starter Greg Milhorn to score two quick runs — both coming across with two outs — before the Cajuns even took the plate.
But after needing 22 pitches to get through the first inning, Milhorn settled into a groove. At one point, Milhorn struck out six out of 11 batters, and he only allowed one run over his final five innings. Milhorn left the game trailing 3-2, but his offense picked him up.
Trosclair and Mills combined to go 5-for-7 with a two RBIs and three runs scored, and they played a big role when things started to get interesting in the last three innings.
Every time one team seemed to take control, the other was always ready with an answer. But the Cajuns had the last and loudest answer.
“That’s part of the game; it’s all in the fight,” Mills said. “They hit us in the mouth and we had to respond. Today, we responded every time.”
The Cajuns took their first lead in the bottom of the sixth when Mills laced a sharp single with the bases loaded to score Tyler Girouard and Derek Herrington, giving the Cajuns a 5-4 lead.
The Red Wolves immediately answered with a pair of runs in the top half of the seventh against reliever Colton Lee. Brown led the inning off with a double, moved to third base on a passed ball and scored the tying run on Austin Baker’s sacrifice fly to right field.
Lee then struggled to find the zone. He walked the next two batters, then hit another third to load the bases for Collin Massanelli.
Massanelli hit a sharp ground ball to Greg Davis for what should’ve been the third out of the inning, but Davis booted the ball, allowing the go-ahead run to score.
Cajuns right-fielder Dylan Butler socked a two-run no-doubt homer to put the Cajuns back ahead in the bottom of the seventh, but the lead didn’t last long.
Lee was pulled in favor of Dylan Moore after issuing a one-out walk in the top of the eighth, but Moore was even wilder.
Only two of Moore’s 11 pitches found the strike zone, and he was yanked after hitting one batter and walking two others — one of whom brought the tying run across.
Coming into the game, Moore and Lee had combined to allow just 11 walks and 5 hit batters in 46 innings, but they walked five and hit two Saturday.
Charpentier righted the ship for the Cajuns with his pair of bases-loaded strikeouts.
“You’ve got to give Charpentier a lot of credit,” coach Tony Robichaux said. “The pictures were starting to fall off the wall right there and he came right in there and made some huge pitches.”
The Cajuns will send Evan Guillory (1-0, 5.68) to the mound Sunday to try to seal a series win. Arkansas State will counter with David Owen (2-2, 2.35).