The UL Ragin' Cajuns' 10-3 loss Tuesday night to the UNO Privateers was ugly.
There’s no way around it.
It’s never fun when it’s 9-0 before the fans even get settled in.
But there are so many narratives circulating around this 6-10 baseball team that I’m not ready to buy just yet.
Coming into this baseball season, most of the questions revolving around the UL Ragin’ Cajuns’ prospects this spring revolved around the pitch…
The popular thought is that the Cajuns' starting rotation is all good, the bullpen has struggled and the lineup can hit on the road but not at home.
Folks, I’m not ready to buy any of that yet.
It should have been no secret from Day 1 that this pitching staff was a question mark.
On paper, the staff was never going to be about holding established pitching for conference play, especially early on. It was always about surviving in the midweek while freshmen hopefully grow up quickly.
Ace pitcher Gunner Leger basically hadn’t thrown in two years. The hope is that he’ll be the same guy he was before the injury at some point during this season, but he’s not there yet.
UL coach Tony Robichaux warned all who would listen Sunday and Monday that it might be a bit tricky piecing together enough pitching to cover …
Right now, he’s obviously still on an innings count.
Brandon Young was supposed to be the Cajuns' No. 2 pitcher, but he got lit up against Texas and is coming off a troubling shoulder injury as well.
Dalton Horton has been encouraging at times, but he, too, is coming off a long stretch of inactivity, and he has walked 12 batters in 21 innings. He’s a good bet as a veteran contributor, but the jury is still out on his long-term viability.
Austin Perrin has had some nice moments so far, but he’s 0-2 with a 4.79 ERA and has allowed 25 hits in 20⅔ innings.
For the most part, it’s nothing but freshman or first-year pitchers after that.
Young’s relief outing last Friday was encouraging. It could mean a new role in the back end of the bullpen for him. But unless Michael Leaumont falters as a closer, a weekend rotation of Leger, Horton and Young a month from now still looks like the best-case scenario.
In the bigger picture, there was no seasoned closer or setup man returning and no established midweek starter. There was never any reason to believe midweek games were going to be an easy process.
Truthfully, the midweek pitching has actually been better than expected.
He was there for every pitch of all 15 games, so UL coach Tony Robichaux had a pretty good idea of what the comparison was going to look like.
Sure, there have been seasons where UL is a candidate for an at-large NCAA berth in May, and theoretically, it’s still possible.
But when you start out 1-7 with a bunch of freshman arms, you have no choice but to put as many eggs in your weekend basket as possible.
Now to the hitting.
The three leading hitters last year were Daniel Lahare (.321), Gavin Bourgeois (.311) and Hayden Cantrelle (.287).
Well, Bourgeois is now out of the season with a shoulder injury and will likely redshirt, while Cantrelle (.185) and Lahare (.143) are off to awful starts. Actually, sophomores struggling after good freshman seasons is nothing new in college baseball.
Still, the offense can’t be consistent if its leaders aren't producing. The plan was for the lineup to protect the young pitching staff early on — but Hunter Kasuls and Brennan Breaux are the only ones consistently hitting the ball hard.
On one hand, UL baseball coach Tony Robichaux would love to be true to his old axiom.
Sure, the Cajuns better hit the ball at hitter-friendly Little Rock over the weekend, but I’m not buying the good road batting numbers, either.
Even if you buy six games as a large enough sample size, remember that UL scored three, two and two runs in half of those six road games.
Much of the lofty road hitting numbers came from their 16-run outburst at McNeese State last week, when the Cowboys walked nine and hit two. (Also note that McNeese pitching has allowed 33 runs in four games since then).
So throw out that game in evaluating the lineup, just as you could easily throw out the UNO game when evaluating the pitching.
Until Cantrelle and Lahare get to a realistic batting average, we won’t know what kind of lineup this is really going to be — home or away.
Also, the defense has been too sloppy. It must get better.
Yes, UL isn’t looking like a team that was supposed to win the Sun Belt Conference.
But you know what’s cool? The Cajuns are 0-0 come Friday in Little Rock.
An as we’ve already learned, the beauty of baseball is a five-game winning streak can be just around the corner.