LAFAYETTE — Sacred Heart landed a jab on Louisiana-Lafayette’s nose to start Saturday’s baseball game at Tigue Moore Field, but the Cajuns landed the haymakers late in a 9-3 win.
Things couldn’t have started much worse for Cajuns right-hander Wyatt Marks. Each of the first three Pioneers to come to the plate collected a base hit, the last of which was a two-run single by shortstop Zack Short to give Sacred Heart (0-5) an early lead.
Marks said he was having trouble getting his pitches down in the strike zone before coach Tony Robichaux came out for a mound visit.
“We had a guy on first, and coach Robe came out … and said, ‘Just get a double play. We’re one pitch away,’ ” Marks said. “I really focused on trying to get my two-seam (fastball) in, and I did.”
Marks hit his spot with his first pitch after Robichaux went back to the dugout, and Victor Sorrento grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. From that point, Marks rarely missed his spot, and his offensive teammates wasted little time picking him up with a few runs.
In fact, they didn’t even have to take the bat off their shoulders to give Marks the lead.
Joe Robbins walked on five pitches to open the third inning, starting a string of five consecutive Cajuns (7-4) to reach base either by walking or being hit by a pitch.
All of those base runners came courtesy of starting pitcher Jason Foley (0-1), who allowed Robbins to score on a wild pitch with the bases loaded, then walked two more batters to send another run home.
The Pioneers brought in reliever Brent Teller after Foley’s fourth walk of the inning, but Ishmael Edwards hit a high-chopping infield single to score the go-ahead run.
“We got punched,” Robbins said. “Well, we responded. We punched back.”
That would be enough for Marks, who struck out seven batters while allowing only two hits over the next five innings.
Marks’ slider worked with devastating effectiveness Saturday afternoon. There was one instance in which he fell behind 3-0 and threw three straight sliders to get back in the at-bat.
“It’s one of those pitches I’ve always been able to control. It’s one of my favorite pitches,” Marks said. “Today I had a little trouble spotting up my fastball, so I had more confidence spotting up my slider.”
After taking the lead with their three-run third, the Cajuns tacked on at least one run in four of the next five innings — and these runs were a little more fun to come by.
Robbins, who extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a double to lead off the Cajuns first inning, ripped a two-run triple in the sixth inning.
Robbins just missed hitting for the cycle Saturday. He needed a home run and hit a shot to the warning track in left-center field to end the seventh inning.
“He’s been huge,” Robichaux said. “He’s one of those success stories where it wasn’t easy at first. He kept grinding through it, grinding through it, now, man, he’s a force.”
The park wasn’t holding Stefan Trosclair’s blast off the scoreboard in the eighth inning that provided the final score. Trosclair extended his hitting streak to seven games, reached base four times in the game and raised his batting average to a season-high .238.
The Cajuns will send freshman right-hander Nick Lee to the mound as they try to go for the series sweep at 1 p.m. Sunday.