LAFAYETTE — Another day, another hitting hero for Louisiana-Lafayette’s baseball team on Sunday.
It was Caleb Adams’ turn to hit in the finale of the Ragin’ Cajuns’ Sun Belt Conference series against Arkansas State, with his two home runs powering ULL to an 8-1 victory and a sweep of the weekend series.
The win, coming on the heels of 11-4 and 14-6 wins Friday and Saturday, moved the Cajuns into solo possession of third place in the Sun Belt standings. The Cajuns begin a weekend series with league leader South Alabama on Friday at M. L. “Tigue” Moore Field.
Adams had a solo homer to lead off the fourth inning Sunday to give ULL (34-15, 15-9) the lead for good at 2-1. Then, two innings later, his two-run homer ignited a six-run sixth inning that chased ASU starter Cody Woodhouse (0-1) and insured the Cajuns’ first series sweep since the opening Sun Belt weekend.
Adams’ two homers were part of ULL’s 13-hit attack — its third straight game with 13 hits and its fifth straight Sun Belt game with at least 13 hits. The Cajuns had six extra-base hits.
“We can really hit,” said Adams, whose 11 homers lead the team that tops the nation with 57 homers. “Everyone one through nine can come up with a big hit, and that takes the pressure off everybody. It has to be tough. ... If I was a pitcher, I think the last thing I would want to do is pitch against this lineup right now.”
The Cajuns had a hit in each of the first seven innings, but Woodhouse kept the Cajuns at bay through the first five. He allowed only Seth Harrison’s RBI single that scored Dex Kjerstad in the third and Adams’ leadoff shot down the line in right field in the fifth.
In the sixth, though, Harrison led off with a line-drive homer to left that made it 3-1. After Tyler Girouard drew a walk, Adams took a 2-0 pitch over the left-center wall for a 5-1 lead. Blake Trahan, Dylan Butler and Michael Strentz followed with back-to-back-to-back doubles, and Kjerstad’s single brought home the final run in ULL’s fifth inning of five or more runs this season.
Adams was the only regular without a hit in the series’ first two games and finished up 3-for-4 Sunday.
That offensive outburst came in support of first-time pitching starter Ben Carter (1-0), who allowed only three hits and struck out two in five innings. The Greenwell Springs and Parkview Baptist product gave up only an unearned run in the first inning when Kevin Fitzpatrick singled, stole second and third, and scored on Strentz’ throwing error.
Carter, who missed all of 2012 with a sore elbow after transferring from LSU-Eunice, threw 23 pitches in that first inning but settled down and faced the minimum number over the next four innings.
“I was a little nervous,” he said. “But I got comfortable after that first inning. I got into a rhythm and felt pretty good. Everything was working, fastball, curve, change, and (the Red Wolves) were ahead of the curve and change all day.”
Ryan Wilson allowed one hit and struck out four in three innings of relief before closer Matt Hicks gave up one hit in the ninth inning for his only appearance of the weekend.
“This was a great example of how far we can go if we pitch,” said Cajun coach Tony Robichaux, whose team has won five straight Sun Belt series. “We’ve tried to give Ben a little here and there to make sure he was ready with his elbow, and he allowed our hitters the chance to settle in. We were able to line up our pitching perfectly.
“I don’t know if we thought we’d be leading the country in home runs, but we saw a lot of this in the fall. The one through nine impressed everyone, but we’ve had a little more power than maybe we thought.”