LAFAYETTE — The Southern baseball team had the University of Louisiana at Lafayette on the ropes, but it slipped when it was trying to deliver the knockout blow, and the Cajuns rallied to steal a 5-4 win Wednesday night at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field.
Thanks to a strong performance from J’Markus George on the mound, the Jaguars (13-19) were shutting the Cajuns (25-15) out, 3-0, through the first five innings, and they looked to take a commanding lead in the top of the sixth.
Marcus Tomlin led the inning off with a single, and it appeared coach Roger Cador made the perfect play call by putting Tomlin in motion on a hit-and-run right when Jose DeLa Torre ripped a deep drive to right-center field.
But Tomlin, watching the ball to make sure it wasn’t caught, missed second base after DeLa Torre’s ball safely found the outfield grass. Tomlin appeared to score easily and was originally ruled safe at home, but the Cajuns appealed the call at second and Tomlin was deemed out.
Gavin Webster, the ensuing batter, sent DeLa Torre home with a run-scoring double, but it was the run the Jaguars missed out on that would come back to haunt them.
The Cajuns sent eight batters to the plate in the next half inning, scoring five runs to surge ahead of the Jaguars. It started with free bases.
George hit No. 9 hitter Jam Williams, then walked leadoff man Blake Trahan to spark the rally. The Cajuns were then faced with the decision of whether or not to bunt with Kyle Clement, their hottest hitter, at the plate.
They opted to swing away, and Clement rewarded them with a single through the left side, scoring Williams and starting a deluge of runs.
The next batter, Stefan Trosclair, brought in another run with a single off Southern third baseman Rivers Frederick’s glove to extend his hitting streak to 10 games and send Jaguars coach Cador calling to the bullpen.
George’s relief, right-hander Harold Myles, was met with similar results, though. Powell smashed one hard to the hole between the shortstop and third baseman, and this one too glanced off Frederick’s glove and rolled into shallow left-center, deep enough to allow the go-ahead run to score.
But for a while, it was anybody’s guess if the Cajuns would find any success against George, who retired the first 10 batters he faced, and he didn’t allow a runner past second base through the first five innings.
George frequently threw his off-speed pitches to a Cajuns team that’s known to hunt fastballs.
“He was pitching everybody backward, and we’re a fastball-hitting team,” Powell said. “We like to get out there and get after the fastball. He was flipping some off-speed stuff in there and keeping our guys off-balance.”
Right-hander Eric Carter overmatched Southern’s hitters in the first meeting between the two teams, striking out a career-high 11. He got the start again, but the Jaguars were ready for Carter’s high-velocity fastball this time.
A two-run homer by Southern leadoff hitter Tyler Kirksey capped a three-run third inning, and the aforementioned three well-struck balls scored another run in the sixth to chase Carter from the game on the hook for the loss.
But the Cajuns bullpen came in and shut the Jaguars down, with freshmen right-handers Logan Stoelke and Dylan Moore allowing a combined one hit in 3.1 scoreless innings.
The Cajuns swept the season series with the Jaguars, who will return to action this weekend in a three-game road series against Texas Southern.