LAFAYETTE — Brian Mills’ slicing double past a diving Kyle Survance down the right field line capped a three-run ninth-inning rally, leading Louisiana-Lafayette to stun a ranked Houston team 7-6 in walk-off fashion.
Mills was 0-for-4 at the plate before he stepped up to the plate with one out and runners on first and second in a tie game.
“Going into that last at-bat, earlier in the game every time I had two strikes on me and trying to battle,” Mills said. “So I went up there with the mindset to see a fastball and jump on it.”
He got the fastball he was looking for on the outer edge of the plate and sent it rocketing deep into the right field corner past a diving Kyle Survance. Evan Powell, whose full-count single with runners in motion plated the first run of the inning, wheeled around from second to score the winning run.
The Cougars (21-12) threw the ball to the plate while the Cajuns (17-13) were celebrating, insisting Powell never touched home, but the umpire ruled him safe.
“They won’t go away, and that’s a good sign,” said coach Tony Robichaux. “I’d rather take that kind of team any day of the week. We were ugly in the first half (of the season), but right now we’re 2-0 in the second half.”
The Cajuns didn’t look like they had much hope going into the final inning. Houston added an insurance run in the top of the ninth to push its lead to 6-4, and the bottom of the Cajuns order was due.
But Kyle Clement started things with a sharp single to left field, and pinch hitter Brenn Conrad drew a five-pitch walk to bring Powell to the plate.
Powell had gone 0-for-3 with three easy outs up to that point, but he drew a full count and snuck a roller through the left side of the infield with runners in motion, plating Clement.
Pinch runner Jam Williams roared from first to third on Powell’s hit to left field — no small feat of its own — then scored on Blake Trahan’s safety squeeze when Cougars pitcher Kyle Dowdy botched the throw home.
The Cajuns faced four pitchers in the ninth inning.
Senior first baseman Greg Davis broke out of a miserable slump in a big way, going 2-for-4 with a two-run homer in the fourth inning.
Davis entered the game with two hits in his previous 32 at-bats, but he looked locked in against Houston pitching.
Trailing 3-1 in the fourth with Tyler Girouard at first base and one out, Davis launched his first home run since March 21 over the left field wall to tie the game at three. Davis’ teammates mobbed him after he crossed the plate.
“That’s the best feeling right there,” Davis said. “A home run is a home run, people do it all the time — (Houston) has a guy on their team with 10 (home runs) — but when your teammates really want it for you, that’s what makes you feel good.”
The momentum was all going in the Cajuns direction before they handed it back to Houston by failing to throw strikes.
Colton Lee, who retired the first four batters he faced in relief of starter Will Bacon, lost his command after allowing a leadoff single to Josh Vidales.
He fired a pair of wild pitches to allow Vidales to make it to third base and sandwiched a pair of walks between two harmless fly balls before Robichaux pulled him in favor of Chris Charpentier.
But Charpentier couldn’t find his command, either. He uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Vidales to score the go-ahead run, then reloaded the bases on a walk before leaving them loaded on an inning-ending strikeout.
The Cajuns had a great chance to tie or take the lead in the bottom half of the sixth, when Girouard and Davis led the inning off with a walk and a single. But they blew their chances on the basepaths.
Girouard wandered too far off second base after Nick Thurman failed to get a bunt down, and he was thrown out for the first out of the inning. Thurman followed by striking out.
It looked like it might not matter when Kyle Clement roped a double to right-center field, but third base coach Jeremy Talbot waved Davis around toward home and Davis was thrown out easily to end the inning.
“It’s a game we should’ve won a lot easier,” Robichaux said. “We’ve got to continue to reel in the slack on the chain.”
Trahan picked up three hits in the game to extend his hitting streak to a career best 21 games.
The Cajuns will hit the road Wednesday to face Southern, whose seven-game win streak was snapped by the Cajuns’ weekend opponent Jackson State on Tuesday night.