LAFAYETTE — After playing to a 1-1 tie through six innings, Louisiana-Lafayette coach Tony Robichaux turned to two of his most dependable bullpen arms against Louisiana Tech.
The Bulldogs (25-13) responded by scoring four runs off five hits against right-handers Eric Carter (2-1) and Dylan Moore in the seventh inning, and the Cajuns bats weren’t up to the task of climbing out of the deficit in a 6-3 loss at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field.
“The first two guys (Hogan Harris and Jevin Huval) did their job, Carter came in and didn’t do his job,” Robichaux said. “When you’re in a 1-1 game, I don’t care if you’ve only got one hit or one run. We’ve got to hold it down right there.”
The seventh inning spiraled out of control quickly for the Cajuns.
Carter gave up a leadoff double to Bulldogs left fielder Marshall Boggs, then mishandled a ball tapped softly back to the mound by Chandler Hall. Second baseman Brenn Conrad scooped it up and tried to rush a throw to first, but the ball sailed into the Louisiana Tech dugout, plating the go-ahead run.
“Carter’s got to make that play,” Robichaux said. “It’s not a tough play.”
After a sacrifice bunt moved Chandler over to second, Raphael Gladu smacked a pinch-hit single through the right side to score Chandler, and center fielder Sean Ullrich followed with a booming double to right-center field that scored another and chased Carter from the game.
Robichaux then called on closer Dylan Moore, who had gone 10 consecutive outings without allowing a run. But even he wasn’t immune to the Bulldogs hit barrage.
Jordan Washam met Moore with a double down the right field line to plate Ullrich, the first extra base hit allowed by Moore since February 27 against Texas Tech.
Before Wednesday’s game, Carter and Moore had combined to allow one run in 36 innings since March 20.
The Cajuns offense didn’t do much to back the pitchers up.
The Cajuns hit two balls out of the park Wednesday night — a fourth inning blast by Brenn Conrad to right field, and a two-run pinch hit homer by Alex Pinero in the eighth — but those were the Cajuns’ only hits of the first eight innings.
But Robichaux wasn’t interested in an excuse for the Bulldogs’ big seventh inning.
“When you’re in a 1-1 game, I don’t care if you’ve only got one hit or one run,” Robichaux said. “We’ve got to hold it down right there.”
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs frequently put pressure on Cajuns pitching. They finished the night with 12 hits, which they spaced out over six different innings. Six of those hits went for extra bases.
They strung together three consecutive two-out singles against Cajuns left-hander Hogan Harris in the first inning to take an early 1-0 lead.
Harris was making his second start of the year and his first appearance since April 10, and he settled in after the two-out rally in the first.
He allowed a leadoff single to start the second, but retired seven in a row after that, and the only other base runner he allowed came on a one-out double in the fourth that he stranded at second base.
“Hogan, after the first inning, really started getting his off-speed over,” Robichaux said. “We’ve been working on a slider, he brought the slider into the game with him, and then his changeup was good, too. Now you’re talking about a four-pitch mix with (velocity).”
Robichaux said he went into the game with a 50-pitch limit for Harris, who threw 48 pitches in four innings, and the plan was to go with Jevin Huval for two innings, Carter for two innings and then to Moore to close it off. Everything went up to plan until the seventh.
Huval followed with two innings of scoreless relief before handing the ball off to Carter in the seventh.
The Bulldogs swept the season series with the Cajuns, who fell to 0-2 this week. They will get up early Thursday morning to travel to Texas for a three-game series against UT-Arlington.
Robichaux said he is going with his usual weekend rotation of Gunner Leger, Wyatt Marks and Nick Lee, but he added that weekday starter Evan Guillory will be available for relief in Sunday’s game because the Cajuns do not have a mid-week game next week.