LAFAYETTE — Southeastern left-hander Kyle Cedotal has been one of the best pitchers in college baseball this season, but Friday he was no match for Gunner Leger and the red-hot Ragin’ Cajuns, who one-hit the Lions while winning their nonconference series opener 4-1.
It was the 11th win in the last 13 tries for the Cajuns (23-11), who came into the game knowing they’d have to take advantage of whatever opportunities Cedotal (4-4) and the Lions (25-10) presented.
Cedotal entered with a 1.17 ERA, which was the best in the nation among pitchers with at least 60 innings.
The Cajuns’ first two runs came on Southeastern miscues — a two-out error in the second inning and a wild pitch in the third — and those runs were enough, thanks to the way Leger (4-2) and relievers Eric Carter and Dylan Moore were throwing.
“You have to have that mindset that you’re not going to get many chances,” coach Tony Robichaux said, “and if (Cedotal) does make mistakes, you’ve got to cash in on them. ... (Cedotal is) a good arm, man. He’s a good pitcher. But there’s only one way to beat a guy like that: You’ve got to match him on the other side. Gunner matched him.”
The only hit Leger allowed came on a leadoff double by catcher Chris Eades to start the third inning. He threw 94 pitches in seven strong innings, even though he felt like he didn’t have his best stuff.
Leger couldn’t locate his offspeed pitches with his usual precision, but he pitched to contact and the Cajuns defense played a solid game behind him, with one error that didn’t amount to anything for Southeastern.
“I was struggling early with my off-speed, so we just went after them with fastballs — kind of went off the plate and tried to get them to swing early,” Leger said.
Outside of the Eades double, which resulted in a run on a sacrifice fly, the only time Leger even sniffed trouble was in the fourth inning. Leger beaned Brennan Breaud on a two-strike pitch and walked two more in the inning. But he picked off Breaud and got out of the inning unscathed.
He went on cruise control after that, retiring the final 10 batters he faced, six of whom by groundball outs. “He threw the ball really well,” Robichaux said. “That’s Gunner; he hangs in there.”
Carter and Moore allowed just one runner between them — a two-out hit batter by Carter in the eighth — in the final two innings. Moore needed just 11 pitches in a perfect ninth inning to record his eighth save.
It was the first combined one-hitter thrown by the Cajuns since 2008, but it was the second one-hitter thrown in the past 10 days. Evan Guillory limited Northwestern State to one hit April 5.
The Cajuns were never able to string together a big rally against Cedotal, but they picked up at least one hit in seven of their eight innings at the plate, and they put the leadoff runner on base in six of those innings.
They also made sure their hits counted.
Brenn Conrad launched a towering home run over the right-field fence with two outs in the fourth inning to make it 3-1, and Joe Robbins led off the sixth with an opposite-field shot for his ninth home run of the year to provide the final score.
“He had four or five pitches that he threw in any count,” Conrad said. “(Hitting coach Jeremy) Talbot said before the game ... you’ve got to pick one and sit on it until you get two strikes. I feel like that’s what we did as a team.”
The Cajuns will travel to Hammond for the final two games of the series, with right-hander Wyatt Marks (3-3, 4.22) scheduled to start against Southeastern right-hander Mac Sceroler (5-2, 2.30) in Saturday’s game.