LAFAYETTE — A rough night at the plate put Louisiana-Lafayette behind the eight ball Saturday night, and a late bullpen implosion made it comfortable for Appalachian State, who evened the series with a 6-1 win Saturday at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field.
The Ragin’ Cajuns (30-17, 15-8) had tallied 56 hits in their previous four games, but they were not able to solve Appalachian State freshman right-hander Breydan Gorham (3-4).
“He didn’t give us any momentum at all,” said Cajuns coach Tony Robichaux. “You’ve got to give him credit: He threw a good ball game. … He did what a good pitcher does on a night where he’s got good stuff: He didn’t give us anything.”
Working mostly with a fastball that stayed in the mid 80s, Gorham consistently found a way to stay away from the sweet spot on the Cajuns bats. For seven plus innings, the Cajuns never seemed to be able to square up a Gorham offering.
It took the Cajuns until the fifth inning to put more than one base runner on against Gorham, and they weren’t able to get a runner past second base until Gorham had left the game in the eighth.
He kept the Cajuns off the scoreboard for seven innings before giving way to the bullpen when he allowed a walk and a single to start the eighth inning. The only run the Cajuns were able to scrape across came on Brian Mills ground out to third base with one out in the eighth.
Sophomore right-hander Wyatt Marks (3-6) did his part, limiting the Appalachian State lineup to just four base runners in six innings.
“Six innings, he gave us every chance to win right there, only giving up two runs,” Robichaux said. “We just couldn’t support him.”
The Mountaineers (15-32, 9-17) also did their part by making those four base-runners count.
They took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Matt Vernon doubled to left-center field with one out, moved to third base on a wild pitch, then scored on Brian Bauk’s ground ball to the right side.
Marks went into a groove after that, retiring 10 of the next 12 batters he faced, but Appalachian State jumped him to start the fifth.
Colin Schmid led the inning off with a single, and after a sacrifice bunt moved him to second he scored on No. 9 hitter Jason Curtis’ double down the left field line, pushing the Appalachian State lead to 2-0.
Marks retired the last five batters he faced. He finished the game with six strikeouts and zero walks in six strong innings, and the Mountaineers immediately pounced on his replacement.
Jevin Huval entered the game in the top of the seventh and was pummeled for four runs on three hits in two thirds of an inning.
The big lick came off Vernon’s bat. With two outs and runners on first and second, Vernon lined a ball into the left centerfield gap and wheeled into third base for a two-run triple that gave the Mountaineers a 5-0 lead.
A passed ball during the ensuing at-bat allowed Vernon to score and give Appalachian State its fourth run of the inning.
“Our bullpen’s been really good all year; tonight we just let it get away from us,” Robichaux said.
The Cajuns will send freshman right-hander Nick Lee (6-1, 3.22) to the mound as they vie for a series win Sunday.
The game will start at noon to accommodate Appalachian State’s travel schedule.
“We’ve got to come out tomorrow and swing the bats better. That’s the bottom line,” Robichaux said.