Stefan Trosclair set the tone with a first-inning home run and junior right-hander Eric Carter kept it going in UL-Lafayette’s dominant 14-1 win against Southern at Lee-Hines field.
The game was called after the eighth inning by run rule, as the Cajuns (18-13) pounded out a season-high 18 hits and scored runs in seven of the first eight innings.
The way Carter (1-1) was pitching against the Jaguars (10-17), the Cajuns didn’t need the offensive fireworks.
“The chart said (Southern) struggled a little bit against velocity, so we wanted to keep the guys that had some velocity out here,” said Cajuns coach Tony Robichaux. “Eric did a good job setting a great tempo for us.”
Making his first career start and just his third appearance of the season, Carter was in complete control from the beginning of the game.
He pitched a nearly flawless first inning, striking out the side on just 10 pitches, then followed that up by striking out a pair on 10 more pitches in the second inning.
Carter was touching 94 miles per hour with his fastball in the first and second innings and stayed in the low 90s as he flummoxed the Jaguars lineup.
“I knew that they’re a free-swinging team, so I wanted to establish the fastball early, and we took it from there,” Carter said.
Carter finished with a career-high 11 strikeouts, the best individual strikeout total by a Cajun pitcher this season, in seven innings of work.
With Carter dealing on the mound, the Cajuns bats went to work on the Jaguars pitchers.
Southern starter J’Markus George (1-4) looked like he might get through the first inning cleanly, getting the first two Cajuns batters out with lazy fly balls.
But he hung a two-strike breaking ball to Trosclair, and Trosclair made him pay, hammering a solo homer over the wall in left-center for his fourth home run in five games.
The Cajuns tacked on another run in the top of the second after two quick outs when freshman left fielder Jam Williams, the No. 9 hitter in the lineup, drew a two out walk.
Williams was nearly caught in a rundown after he was caught off the bag at first on a pickoff throw, but nobody was covering first and he got back safely.
Blake Trahan made the Jaguars pay for the pair of mistakes by drilling an RBI triple down the right field line.
“J’Markus got two outs, but then he couldn’t put them away,” said Southern coach Roger Cador. “That was devastating for him.”
With the triple, Trahan extended his hitting streak to 22 games, which is one shy of tying the school record of 23 set in 1996 by Chris Webb. The Cajuns only picked up steam from there.
They scored in every inning but the fourth, and tacked a crooked number on the scoreboard in the fifth, sixth and eighth innings. Their five-run eighth, during which they sent 11 batters to the plate, brought the run rule into play.
Every Cajuns starter picked up at least one hit, and the Nos. 3, 4 and 5 hitters each finished with three-hit contests.
Trosclair drove in three runs and finished a triple shy of the cycle, Tyler Girouard ripped a pair of doubles and Greg Davis continued to emerge from a miserable slump by scoring three times on his three hits.
Evan Powell also homered for the Cajuns and tied with Trosclair for the team lead with three runs driven in.
But Carter was so good, the scoring clinic took a backseat to him after the game.
He said the 90 pitches he threw Wednesday night were the most he’s thrown in four years. It was certainly the most he’d thrown this season, as he entered the game with just 2.1 innings of work this year.
Carter was one of the pitchers Robichaux was counting on at the beginning of the year to seize a crucial role in the bullpen, and Wednesday was evidence as to why.
As far as answering the question of why it’s taken so long for Carter to get his chance?
“He struggled a little bit early in intersquad games with command and getting-after-it-ness,” Robichaux said.
“Sometimes sitting for a while helps you come back out and get after somebody.”