LAFAYETTE — On a Saturday when the wind was blowing stiffly out to center and right field, the Louisiana-Lafayette and Little Rock baseball teams combined for 46 hits, 19 of which went for extra bases, and 34 runs as they split a doubleheader.
The Ragin’ Cajuns pounded out 15 runs on 14 hits to win the series opener 15-4 before the Trojans returned the favor with 10 runs on 13 hits in the nightcap to salvage a split with a 10-5 victory. Of the teams’ 46 hits, seven left the park.
“As a hitter, you just look to make good contact,” said Cajuns senior Joe Robbins, who finished with two home runs and seven RBIs. “If you hit it on the barrel in this wind that we had today, it’s going to go.”
The first game went almost entirely the Cajuns’ way, though Little Rock (7-11, 1-4) got on the board first with a hit-and-run double by designated hitter Dalton Thomas three batters into the first inning.
But it didn’t take long for the Cajuns (12-7, 3-2) to take the lead back.
Brian Mills led off the bottom of the first with an infield single, and Brenn Conrad took the third pitch he saw from Little Rock starter Dylan Slayton (0-1) over the wall in right field to give the Cajuns a 2-1 lead.
The wind was steadily blowing out to straight-away center, and the Cajuns took advantage. Conrad’s homer was the first of five Cajuns long balls on the day.
It was Mills’ turn in the bottom of the third inning, when he hit a low-rising line drive over the wall in left field for a two-run homer that made it 4-1.
Joe Robbins essentially put the first game out of reach during a six-run fourth inning. After a Nick Thurman flared single scored two more Cajuns to make it 6-1, Robbins crushed a Slayton offering off the scoreboard in left-center for a grand slam that made it 10-1.
Slayton exited having given up nine hits and 10 earned runs in 3.2 innings. His ERA climbed by nearly eight runs.
Robbins added a sacrifice fly later in the game to finish with a career-high five RBIs.
Six of the nine Cajuns in the starting lineup recorded multiple hits, and four finished with multiple RBIs.
Sophomore left-hander Gunner Leger (2-1) tamed the Trojans in the opener, striking out seven while limiting them to one run on three hits in six innings.
Leger did not have his most efficient outing, needing 92 pitches to get through six innings, but he only allowed four base runners after the first, none of whom advanced to scoring position.
“You always think you’re in the game against him. You always think, ‘Man, his stuff’s not going to blow me away,’ ” Cajuns coach Tony Robichaux said. “But it’s how he uses his stuff. His big thing is his ability to manage a baseball game.”
The Trojans wasted no time getting payback in the nightcap.
Ryan Scott, who entered the series leading the nation in hitting, set the stage for a monster second game with a two-run homer in the middle of a three-run first inning off Cajuns starter Wyatt Marks (2-2).
The Cajuns answered with two runs on Robbins’ second homer of the day in the bottom of the first, but those would be their final runs until the game was well out of hand. Scott and Little Rock were just getting started.
“We set a poor tempo in Game 2 and never recovered,” Robichaux said.
Marks sandwiched a single and a walk around a sacrifice bunt to start the second inning and he was removed after 1.1 innings in favor of Jevin Huval, who promptly gave up a two-run double to Scott.
Scott picked up his third hit in the Trojans’ two-run fourth, and when he came back up to the plate with two runners on in the fifth, he destroyed a 3-0 meatball from Chris Charpentier for a three-run homer to give the Trojans a 10-2 lead.
Scott finished the second game 4-for-5 with two home runs, three runs and seven RBIs.
“We just couldn’t locate offspeed throughout the ballgame, and we became too predictable,” Robichaux said. “(Scott) got his swing off and did some damage on us.”
The Cajuns had chances to cut into that lead, putting runners in scoring position in the second, fourth, fifth and sixth innings, but they went 0-for-8 in those innings with runners in scoring position. Their only hits with runners in scoring position in the nightcap came on home runs in the first and ninth innings by Robbins and Kennon Fontenot.
Freshman right-hander Nick Lee will look to guide the Cajuns to a series win in Sunday’s finale. The Trojans will counter with their own freshman right-hander, Joe Corbett.