TROY, Ala. — Dylan Moore capped a day of dominant efforts for Louisiana-Lafayette’s baseball team Sunday, finishing off Troy in style as the Ragin’ Cajuns posted an 8-3 win in the finale of their Sun Belt Conference series.
Moore, who struck out all three ninth-inning batters he faced Friday night in a 4-2 Cajuns win, struck out five of six Troy hitters he faced Sunday to record his fourth save of the year and the 17th of his career, setting a UL-Lafayette school record for career saves.
“He deserves that,” Cajuns coach Tony Robichaux said after his squad took a 2-1 series win on the road with its first two hostile-field victories of the year. “He’s got great stuff. He’s got some unorthodox mechanics, and if you only see him one time through the lineup, he’s very hard to figure out.”
Moore came on in the eighth inning with UL-Lafayette (10-6, 2-1 Sun Belt) leading 6-3 and fanned all three batters in that inning. Troy hitter T. J. Binder managed a ground-ball out to start the ninth, but Moore fanned Payton Fuller and Justin Friend to lock up the series.
His wasn’t the only solid pitching effort for the Cajuns on Sunday. Starting pitcher Nick Lee (3-0) struggled in the first inning as Troy (10-8, 1-2) scored two runs on three hits and took a 2-0 lead. But over the next five innings, Lee retired 14 straight Trojans before issuing a one-out walk to Austin Hulsey.
Eric Carter came on in relief and fanned two but was victimized by a nubbed ground ball by Fuller that rolled inside the third-base bag for a double. Hulsey scored all the way from first to cut the margin to 5-3.
UL-Lafayette, though, pushed across a run in the eighth and added three more in the ninth to lock up a conference-opening series win for the fifth straight year. Troy had come back from the Friday loss to take a 4-1 win on Saturday to set up Sunday’s rubber game.
“I’d proud of our guys coming back after a loss on the road,” Robichaux said. “We swung the bat better. We’re going to need that as we continue to try to find our identity. I hope with this we can find it and catch our stride.”
Lee found his stride after the first, when Husley’s sacrifice fly and Fuller’s two-out single provided the 2-0 lead. Lee got the final out of the inning and sat the Trojans down in order each of the next four innings.
“He couldn’t get his change-up over, and couldn’t really get the slider over that well,” Robichaux said. “He really just pitched with one pitch. He got a little mad after they hit him, and that’s a good sign for a freshman. He didn’t just sit down in the fetal position and pitch scared. He fought back.”
The Cajuns hitters also fought back after being held to seven singles on Saturday and to only one extra-base hit in the first two games of the series. UL-Lafayette managed single runs in the second and third innings off Troy starter and Loreauville native Eric Hebert, and then broke things open with three straight extra-base hits off reliever Cory Gill (0-1).
Alex Pinero lined a leadoff home run just over the left field wall in that fourth inning, and Nick Thurman and Derek Herrington followed with a double and a triple. Brian Mills’ ground ball scored Herrington for a 5-2 lead.
Pinero, Thurman and Herrington combined to go 10-for-14 with four RBI in the bottom three spots in the batting order, with Pinero collecting four hits along with the homer and Thurman and Herrington each getting three.
“That was huge,” Robichaux said. “Pinero was a force today. Our junior college guys have to come on and play big for us. We got some critical hits and critical times, and we finally got a three-run inning. We hadn’t been able to do that on the road this year.”
Herrington’s RBI single scored Ishmael Edwards in the second inning, and Steven Sensley’s RBI single plated Joe Robbins in the third to tie the game before the three-run fourth.
Pinero led off the eighth with a single and eventually scored on Mills’ two-out bounder up the middle, and the Cajuns got two insurance runs in the ninth on pinch hitter Hunter Kasuls’ squeeze bunt that scored Stefan Trosclair and Pinero’s two-out single that scored Brad Antchak.