Things didn't look good for UL pitcher Jack Burk a few days ago.
A mysterious illness kept the junior from New Orleans from even eating, let alone practicing with the team.
On Sunday at Russo Park, however, Burk looked perfectly healthy as he went six innings for UL in a 4-1 victory that clinched the series versus South Alabama.
"I started feeling pretty bad Wednesday and then I woke up with cold sweats on Thursday," Burk said. "I felt really weak."
With a strong wind blowing out, Burk struck out seven hitters with only one walk to get his first decision of the season.
"The key was throwing strikes," he said. "When you come out here and see the flag blowing out, you try not to think about it.
"I wanted to throw strikes, pitch ahead and give my team a chance to win. It was a big game. We needed that. I was feeling good until the sixth when I started losing my legs, so I emptied the tank in that inning."
UL coach Tony Robichaux said the movement on Burk's fastball can make it difficult for opponents.
"If his fastball is turning down, and that's what it's been doing, it's like trying to lift a bowling ball," Robichaux said. "He's been good.
"It all predicated with Jack. He set a great tempo. He had it bad for a good five days and wasn't even out here. He had a hard time keeping food down, so for him to come out here and give us 90 pitches was really big."
Jacob Schultz relieved Burk in the top of the seventh to pick up his second save.
"We wanted to get the next arm in there who had the most ground ball outs, and Schultz has 50 ground ball outs with his sinker," Robichaux said. "It worked out like we wanted, which is good.
"We left a couple of runners on base. Two times, we had a runner on third base with only one out and we have to get that in. That's two more runs."
Todd Lott, Orynn Veillon and Kole McKinnon each had a solo homer for UL, which spotted the Jaguars (15-20, 5-10 Sun Belt Conference) a lead for the second straight day before coming back.
Lott's blast in the bottom of the third tied the game, and Veillon and McKinnon followed with back-to-back homers in the fourth to chase South Alabama starter Jared Proctor (0-4).
"I kept the same approach from yesterday when I hit two balls to the outfield that would have been home runs with the wind today," said Lott, who added an RBI single in the seventh. "'I've been staying confident and hitting the ball early in the count. That's really about it."
Veillon made two crucial defensive plays in right field, the first on a diving catch.
Then, in the top of the ninth, USA shortstop Santi Montiel ripped a line drive to right but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.
"Man, that's huge," Robichaux said. "Those two guys, Veillon and (center fielder Brennan) Breaux, can throw you out. That play where Veillon threw the runner out at second was huge because (Ethan) Wilson would have been lurking with a guy at second, especially if we would have then mismanaged the next hitter."
Wilson, a junior left fielder and the USA leadoff man, entered the game as the Jaguars' leader in hitting (.328), home runs (nine), doubles (nine) and RBIs (30).
"If Veillon hadn't thrown out that runner, there would have been no place to put Wilson, who would have been up with potential damage now," Robichaux said. "I had been fortunate after Game 2 to be able to intentionally walk him every time and just take his bat out of that lineup.
"I think the big thing is we took Wilson out of things after Game 1. It was big because that cat is good. We were fortunate to manage well against the guys in front of him and behind in order to make his at-bats meaningless. He hit a double but it was kind of meaningless."
Hayden Cantrelle went 2-for-4 and stole two bases.
The sophomore came into the series ranked 13th in the nation in steals. He's now 25-of-29 on the basepaths.
UL (18-20, 7-7 SBC) travels to Metairie to face LSU on Tuesday.