SAN ANTONIO — Now that was the pitching performance that University of Louisiana at Lafayette baseball coach Tony Robichaux was looking for.
Three newcomers, including freshman starter Evan Guillory, kept Texas-San Antonio in check all afternoon Saturday as the’ Cajuns rolled to an 8-2 win in the middle game of their weekend series.
Guillory (1-0) scattered five hits, struck out seven and allowed only an unearned run as the Cajuns (1-1) came back from an 8-5 loss in Friday night’s opener. Fellow freshman Dylan Moore and junior-college transfer Colton Lee checked UTSA (1-1) on two hits the rest of the way after Guillory’s strong start.
“He has a chance to be special,” Robichaux said of the Jennings freshman. “He had a chance to give it up early, and he came back and was calm and under control. He never let them get to him.”
It helped that junior Joe Robbins was a one-man wrecking crew in the Cajuns lineup. Robbins, who was hurt almost the entire 2014 season and played in only three games, had gone 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in Friday night’s loss. But he was involved with each of UL-Lafayette’s first three two-run innings.
Robbins singled and scored in the third on Brian Mills’ triple to the right-center-field gap. Mills scored one batter later on Herrington’s ground ball as the Cajuns took the lead for good at 2-1.
Robbins then delivered a clutch two-out single in the fourth that scored Greg Davis and Stefan Trosclair for a 4-1 lead.
But Robbins wasn’t through, as he launched his first career home run over the left-field wall at Roadrunner Field in the sixth, scoring Dylan Butler in front of him for a 6-1 lead.
“That’s why you have to be able to let the past go,” Robichaux said. “He was oh-for last night, and today he’s the big man. That’s the ability to respond. It’s what you do when something happens to you.
“Our guys did a great job for a young team to brush that off last night and come right back here. You don’t want one loss to send you into a tailspin. Today we were able to answer right back, and that’s a good sign for a young team.”
The teams will play the finale of the opening three-game series at 1 p.m. Sunday.
For the second straight game, UTSA jumped in front in the first inning on leadoff hits by Kevin Markham and Matt Hilston, the second of which glanced off Guillory’s back and went into center field. Horacio Correa’s ground ball was thrown away in an attempt to turn a double play as Markham scored, but a stellar diving catch by Derek Herrington prevented further damage in the inning.
Guillory then took control, giving up one hit in each of the next three innings but allowing only one runner to reach second base. He faced the minimum number over his final 10 batters.
“I mostly threw breaking balls and sliders,” Guillory said. “(The Roadrunners) hit the fast ball well, but I felt good after the first inning. I knew those guys would have my back.”
Davis had his second hit of the game, and fifth of the series, to lead off the fourth and Trosclair followed one out later with a double down the left-field line. With two outs, Robbins delivered again with a bouncing single between shortstop and third, scoring both runners off UTSA starter and loser Nolan Trabanino (0-1), who was 9-3 for UTSA last season.
Robbins also tagged reliever Jeremy Filipek in the sixth after Butler drew a two-out walk, launching a slider for the Cajuns’ first team homer of the year.
“They were pitching me backward, and I was looking for a slider and got it,” Robbins said. “Today was just us staying composed, we knew we were a better team than what we showed last night.”
Moore and Lee made that offense stand up, with Moore giving up only a leadoff homer to John Bormann in the seventh. Lee then came with two outs in that inning after Moore hit a batter and issued the only walk by Cajuns pitching, and Lee struck out Trent Bowles to end the threat.
Lee then retired six straight to end the game after Markham’s leadoff single in the eighth.
“We really want these young arms to learn,” Robichaux said. “You’re not going to win every game, but to come out and pitch like this, to be able to attack the strike zone and hold runners, that was a big key.”
UL-Lafayette added two insurance runs in the ninth on singles by Herrington and Blake Trahan and a sinking liner that turned into a two-run triple by Brenn Conrad.
“That shows what kind of team we have, the way we responded,” Guillory said. “We got eight runs, and that helps the pitchers a lot.”