The University of Louisiana at Lafayette baseball team plays a midweek home game for the second straight week after playing only one in the season’s first two months. And the Ragin’ Cajuns would love to have a second straight matching effort from Evan Guillory.
This time, though, the competition will be a little tougher.
Guillory, who threw the program’s first one-hit shutout in six seasons last Tuesday in a 4-0 win over Northwestern State, will get the call again Tuesday when the Cajuns (21-11) host 22nd-ranked Tulane (21-10) in the second meeting of the season between the teams.
First pitch is set for 6 p.m. at M. L. “Tigue” Moore Field in the first of five games in six days for a UL-Lafayette team that has won five of its past six games.
“This is a tough part of our schedule,” said Cajuns coach Tony Robichaux, whose squad took a series win at Georgia Southern over the weekend and was one run short of a road sweep. “We’re trying to get better as a road team, and our guys are doing a good job of continuing to learn how to play on the road. That was an issue we had to solve.”
The Cajuns play three road games this week, traveling to UNO on Wednesday and playing the final two games of a split weekend series against Southeastern Louisiana in Hammond after a Friday home game against the Lions.
UL-Lafayette started the season 0-3 on the road (1-5 including neutral-site games) but has battled back to an 8-6 road mark, including Sun Belt Conference road series wins the past two weekends.
Those series wins came over Arkansas State and Georgia Southern teams that are in triple-digits in the RPI listings: Arkansas State at 123 and Georgia Southern at 138. The Cajuns at No. 23 and high-flying South Alabama at No. 13 are the only Sun Belt teams in the top 70 this week. This week’s foes are all in the nation’s RPI top 60: Tulane at 48, UNO at 56 and Southeastern at 59.
“It’s a good RPI week for us,” Robichaux said. “Now we have to protect our RPI to the best of our ability. I like that we’re playing three road games against good RPI teams this week, because that’s extra RPI points.”
Before that happens, though, the Green Wave comes to Moore Field for the first time since April of 2014. Tulane, ranked No. 22 in this week’s D1baseball.com poll (the Cajuns are in the top five among others receiving votes), posted a home series win over nationally ranked East Carolina over the weekend as part of a 2-2 week that included a 7-6 loss to Southeastern.
The Wave won the first meeting with UL-Lafayette this season, 5-3 on March 8 in New Orleans.
Guillory started that game, going six innings and allowing four hits and not figuring in the decision during a streak in which he went 1-3. The sophomore right-hander snapped that streak in high style last Tuesday when he gave up a first-inning single and then retired 25 of the last 26 batters he faced with only a fifth-inning leadoff walk marring his 93-pitch complete game.
For that effort against a Northewestern State team that is still No. 32 in the RPI rankings, Guillory was picked as one of Louisville Slugger’s national Players of the Week.
That gem came in Guillory’s first home appearance of the year. Despite his record and making six straight road starts, opponents are hitting only .210 against him.
“The game knows who to pay back,” Robichaux said. “He gave up his Sunday starting spot and did what was best for the team, he went on the road and got roughed up a little, but he stayed the course. Hopefully he can come out and be the same guy against Tulane.”
The Green Wave will also come with a hot arm in sophomore right-hander J. P. France, who picked up the 7-1 win over LSU two weeks ago. France (2-0) gave up four singles and no runs over six innings in that victory.
Tulane trailed 1-0 in the earlier game between the teams before scoring its five runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. Most of those runs came on a pair of two-run homers by Lex Kaplan and Jeremy Montalbano, the latter providing the game-winning runs in the eighth. Before that game, the Cajuns pitching staff had given up only two homers in its first 12 games.