LAFAYETTE — It’s never a good sign when a baseball team has only one more hit (five) than errors (four) through eight innings — but somehow UL-Lafayette was still in great position to tie or win against Nicholls State on Wednesday night.
All-American shortstop Blake Trahan came to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded with the Cajuns trailing by two runs. He got a 2-1 pitch that fit his eye, and he drilled a line drive — right at the right fielder.
“The guys before me did a good job getting on, we had a chance to tie or even win the game. ... I hit a ball hard,” Trahan said. “That’s just how it goes. Sometimes you just don’t win those.”
And sometimes, that leads to a loss. The Colonels scored single runs in the first, third and sixth innings and held the Cajuns down for a 3-1 victory Wednesday.
The Cajuns (13-9) still nearly pulled it out — but the way things unfolded over the first eight innings, Nicholls State (13-10-1) probably deserved to wind up in the winner’s column.
“It’s a real simple game — you pitch, you play defense and you hit,” coach Tony Robichaux said. “Tonight, we did one thing. You can’t do one thing and expect to win.”
All three of the Colonels’ runs were the direct result of errors by Cajuns fielders, and a fourth error could’ve led to a big inning.
The first run came around with two outs in the first, when freshman second baseman Kennon Fontenot — getting the start while third baseman Tyler Girouard rested a sore hamstring for the second straight day — let a routine ground ball roll under his glove.
Nicholls had a runner on second with one out in the third inning when third baseman Brenn Conrad rushed a throw to first base and threw it out of play, allowing Justin Holt to score with ease.
“We’ve got to take defense as the most important part of the game right now,” Trahan said. “That’s our weak spot, and we’ve got to start working on that a little harder.”
After being held hitless for the first three innings, the Cajuns finally got something going in the bottom half of the fourth.
Trahan led things off with a single back up the middle of the diamond to extend his hit streak to 13 games, and he moved to third base on Nick Thurman’s single to center field.
Stefan Trosclair, who was Tuesday night’s hero with a game-winning double in extra innings against McNeese, scored Trahan with a double into the left-field corner.
But until the ninth inning, the Cajuns couldn’t get much else going against Nicholls’ pitchers, who efficiently and effectively pounded the strike zone.
Meanwhile, the Cajuns defense continued to struggle. The Colonels nearly broke the game open in the top of the fifth when they loaded the bases on Conrad’s second error of the night, but the Cajuns turned a 5-3 double play to get out of the jam.
They wouldn’t be as lucky in the next inning. The ball found Joe Robbins immediately after the Cajuns moved him from center field to third base, and his errant throw wound up turning into the Colonels’ third run of the game, when Tanner Vandevere scored on Seth Stevens sacrifice fly to center field.
“You cannot give any team runs, much less a team that can pitch like that ... Hopefully they can learn from this, grow up and get ready for the weekend,” Robichaux said.
Cajuns starter Connor Toups (1-1) was the tough-luck loser. He gave up all eight hits and three runs to the Colonels, but none of the runs were earned and only half of the hits left the infield.
“I thought I pitched well,” Toups said. “I wanted to keep giving my team a chance to win, and hopefully the bats were going to come alive later in the game. I wasn’t going to let a few errors determine the rest of the game or how I was going to pitch.”
Nick Zaunbrecher and Reagan Bazar combined to throw three hitless innings in relief of Toups, with a ninth-inning walk by Bazar the only base runner they allowed.
Cole Stapler (1-0) picked up the win after relieving starter Ryan Deemes and firing 1.2 scoreless innings.
The Cajuns won’t have to wait long for a shot at redemption, as Arkansas State visits Lafayette for a three-game series beginning at 6 p.m. Friday.