LAFAYETTE — The Cajuns may have fallen out of the Sun Belt Conference championship race, and they may have lost two out of three to South Alabama, but there was some fine baseball being played on the Tigue Moore turf by both teams.
The Cajuns have some work to do for positioning in the postseason tournament, which becomes especially important now because they might have to win the thing to get into the NCAA tournament.
But if they pitch and play defense like they did against the Jaguars, they have a shot. The hitting, on the other hand, needs some work.
Here are the things that went well and the things that didn’t go so well as the Cajuns dropped two of three to the team that’s in the driver’s seat for the SBC regular-season championship.
1 COMMAND AND CONTROL: South Alabama entered the series having drawn more walks than anybody in the league, but the Cajuns trio of freshman starters didn’t pad their total. Gunner Leger, Evan Guillory and Wyatt Marks combined to walk zero batters in 21 innings of work. That was crucial to keeping the score down against a Jaguars team that had a knack for hitting bloopers that found a gap in the Cajuns defense.
2 LEATHER ‘TIS NOBLER: The Cajuns defenders had their young pitchers’ backs against South Alabama, committing just one error in the weekend series — a catcher’s interference call on Nick Thurman. They weren’t all easy plays, either. Brenn Conrad made a bare-handed stab at third base, and Greg Davis made a couple of nice picks on the other corner. It would be inappropriate not to mention that South Alabama enjoyed a great weekend, too, going error free. These games weren’t decided on cheap runs, it was well played all around.
3 BIDING THEIR TIME: Conrad and Greg Milhorn both started the season in prominent positions, but both have had their roles change for different reasons. Conrad was pushed out of the lineup when his glove failed him, and Milhorn missed nearly a month with a groin injury. But both came up huge when the Cajuns needed them Sunday. Milhorn earned the win in front of his family on Senior Day with two scoreless innings of relief, and Conrad drove in the game-winning hit in the eighth.
1 LUMBER LIQUIDATED: The Jaguars came into the weekend with the best ERA in the league, but even they might have been surprised with how thoroughly they stamped out the Cajuns scoring opportunities. The Cajuns hit just .237 for the series and connected on a total of three extra-base hits. Neither the stars (Blake Trahan went 3-for-12) nor the slumping (Davis went-1 for-10) could find breathing room against the Jaguars staff.
2 RIP, RISP: The Cajuns had an even tougher go of it when they needed the big hit. They had their chances to chalk up a big inning in all three games, but the only time they scored more than one run in a single inning came in the eighth inning of the series finale on Conrad’s two-run game-winning single. Before that hit, the Cajuns had gone 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position, and only one of those two hits scored a run. That was the difference in the series.
3 BULLPEN BLUES: Though it rebounded nicely in Sunday’s win, getting three scoreless innings from Milhorn and Dylan Moore, this was not the best weekend for the Cajuns bullpen. Colton Lee lasted just two batters before he was pulled in the ninth inning of Game 1, walking one and hitting another. His relief didn’t fare much better, as Reagan Bazar allowed two hits and a walk to turn a manageable two-run game into a five-run hole. In Game 2, Will Bacon allowed three hits, and he issued a bases-loaded walk to allow two runs to score in the eighth inning of a game the Cajuns lost by one.
-- Luke Johnson