LAFAYETTE — A five-run inning by his teammates was all that Austin Robichaux needed Saturday afternoon at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field.
The Louisiana-Lafayette sophomore pitcher checked Louisiana-Monroe on three hits over 7.2 innings, and a five-run uprising in the third inning was more than enough as ULL took a 5-2 Sun Belt Conference baseball victory over the Warhawks in front of 2,333 fans.
“You can be a lot more aggressive when you pitch with that kind of lead,” Robichaux said after a career-high eight-strikeout performance. “When you have a four-run lead, you can leave stuff over the plate more and it doesn’t affect you.”
Robichaux (3-0) allowed only one hit after the second inning and struck out at least one batter in every frame as the Cajuns (15-3, 2-0) won their fourth straight game and clinched their opening conference series of the season. The teams play a weekend finale at 1 p.m. Sunday.
ULL, which took a 9-2 victory in Friday’s series opener, trailed 1-0 against ULM ace Cale Wine before using four hits and three Warhawks errors to push across the five runs in the third. Dex Kjerstad reached on a fielders’ choice, moved to second on a throwing error by Wine, and scored on Ryan Leonards’ ground-ball single up the middle. ULM shortstop Kodie Tidwell’s throw to the plate on that hit was in time, but catcher Logan Fiasco dropped the ball while tagging Kjerstad.
Moments later, Leonards stole third and scored when Fiasco’s throw was wide and got away from ULM third baseman Judd Edwards for the 2-1 lead. A bloop single by catcher Michael Strentz scored Tyler Girouard after an intentional walk to Girouard, and Chase Compton followed with his second home run in as many games, an opposite-field shot to left-center that made it 5-1.
“You’ve got to pitch and play good defense,” Cajuns coach Tony Robichaux said, “and that makes your critical play mean something. We didn’t give up anything easy, and that meant when Mike’s ball fell in, it mattered.”
Wine (2-3) gave up only five hits and walked only one outside of that third inning, and the Cajuns only had two other runners reach third base the rest of the game.
“It’s tough to go and beat a guy like him,” Tony Robichaux said. “Guys like that are not going to give you much. You have to match him with another stingy ERA guy, and Austin’s been that for us. He had good sink on his fastball, and he and Mike did a good job of going back and forth and keeping them (ULM) off balance.
ULM (8-11, 0-2) threatened in the eighth when Robichaux hit two batters, but reliever Matt Hicks struck out Taylor Abdalla to end the threat. The Warhawks did plate one run in the ninth on two-out hits by Dalton Herrington and Jeff Fuller, but pinch hitter Justin Stawychny grounded out to end the game as Hicks posted his sixth save.