LAFAYETTE — Louisiana-Lafayette certainly used the long ball and the small ball in its Friday night Sun Belt Conference baseball opener, but mostly, the Ragin’ Cajuns used the left arm of Ryan Wilson.
The junior pitcher turned in ULL’s first complete-game effort of the season, scattering nine hits and striking out nine as the Cajuns rolled to a 9-2 victory over Louisiana-Monroe in front of 2,325 fans in the opener of a three-game series at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field.
Wilson (2-1) allowed only two Warhawk runners past second base in a 117-pitch victory, giving up only single runs in the third and ninth innings and retiring nine straight batters late in the game.
The previous long outing for a ULL pitcher this season was seven innings, set by two pitchers. Wilson did so against Nicholls State in February, and Chase Traffica matched the effort against Sacred Heart two weekends ago.
“He pitched to both sides of the plate, and he worked soft and hard,” Cajuns coach Tony Robichaux said. “It’s a game of timing, and whoever destroys timing wins. He mixed and matched his pitches well. He’s a strike-thrower, and he’s not a scared guy ... he’s going to get after you, and guys want to play behind that.”
The teams play the middle game of the conference-opening series at 2 p.m. today, with ULM ace Cale Wine (2-2) slated to go against ULL’s Austin Robichaux (2-0). The series finale is 1 p.m. Sunday.
The Cajuns (14-3, 1-0 Sun Belt) broke things open in the fourth inning off Warhawks starter Carey Taylor (1-2) when Chase Compton and Sam Carriere led off the inning with back-to-back home runs, the first of the year for both. Immediately after, Jace Conrad and Blake Trahan each bunted for base hits, and eventually both scored on sacrifice flies by Dex Kjerstad and Ryan Leonards in a four-run inning that gave ULL a 6-1 lead.
“It’s frustrating when you’re on defense,” Robichaux said of the homers and following bunts. “The big hits back you up, and then you start dragging ... it gets frustrating. But that’s something our hitters work on.”
Taylor allowed seven runs on nine hits with one walk and three strikeouts in six innings.
Meanwhile, the Warhawks struggled at the plate. Taylor Abdalla led off the sixth with a single, and Corben Green followed with a single down the left-field line — but Abdalla was tagged out at third as Green moved to second on the throw. Green was stranded at second as ULM’s final two outs came via a strikeout and a groundout.
ULM (8-10, 0-1 Sun Belt), which has lost five straight, took a 1-0 lead off Wilson on Brandon Alexander’s one-out single and a following Judd Edwards double to left. But in the bottom of the inning, Seth Harrison doubled with two outs and Tyler Girouard — coming off a four-hit game against Southern Miss in ULL’s last outing — blasted his third home run of the year to right field.
The Cajuns added a single run in the sixth on a double steal, with Trahan scoring from third base, and sacrifice flies by Carriere and Conrad pushed across two more in the seventh off Warhawks reliever Christo Jones.
In the ninth, ULM’s Justin Stawychny doubled to left-center with one out. Stawychny moved to third on a groundout by Jeff Fuller and scored the final run of the game on a wild pitch.
Edwards led the Warhawks with two hits and an RBI.