LAFAYETTE — When Louisiana-Lafayette’s last good chance to tie the game ended in an Arizona glove, you could hear the air coming out of the sails at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field in a protracted sigh.
The Cajuns (43-21) had two tries to get one win Monday, but simply could not find the big hit when it mattered, a problem that was compounded by the fact they were digging out of early holes courtesy of the Arizona (42-21) offense. Because of that, the Cajuns 2016 season ended in a 3-1 loss, and Arizona will continue its season later this week against Mississippi State in the super regional.
Arizona’s offense grabbed hold of the momentum early against the Cajuns and starting pitcher Wyatt Marks (5-7).
Ryan Aguilar yanked a two-out pitch through the right side of the infield and made an aggressive turn toward second to try and stretch it into a double. Steven Sensley’s throw from right field skipped away from Hunter Kasuls at the bag, allowing a run to score and Aguilar to coast into third base.
When Marks uncorked a wild pitch a few pitches later, Aguilar scored easily to make it a 2-0 advantage. Marks gave up another walk and a single before finally getting out of the inning by striking out Cesar Salazar on his 25th pitch.
The Wildcats kept up the barrage in the second inning, when No. 9 hitter Louis Boyd stroked a one-out double and was chased home on Cody Ramus single to right field.
Zach Gibbons followed with another single, Arizona’s third straight hit, but Marks got out of the jam when Nick Thurman caught Ramus stealing and Marks struck out Alfonso Rivas to end the inning.
With a fresh bullpen at his disposal, Robichaux went to right-hander Eric Carter to start the third inning, and Carter stabilized the game long enough for the Cajuns to make a run.
He hung five consecutive zeroes on the board, allowing just four base runners in a brilliant relief outing.
But the Cajuns weren’t able to take advantage of Carter’s excellence on the mound, as Wildcats right-hander Kevin Ginkel (4-1) and southpaw reliever Cameron Ming stymied the Cajuns lineup for the entire evening.
The Cajuns only had one hit – which was quickly wiped away by a double play – by the time Kyle Clement came to the plate to lead off the fourth inning.
Clement momentarily put a charge into the Cajuns faithful when he drilled a pitch well over the wall in right field for his fourth home run of the season.
But the thrill was short lived. Ginkel and Ming went right back to holding down the Cajuns bats.
Only three of the final 21 batters after Clement’s home run reached base, and none of them got past second base. Ming struck out the side in the ninth to preserve the win.