UL-Lafayette coach Tony Robichaux was quick to remind everyone that Wednesday night's win over LSU was just one baseball game.
But the Ragin’ Cajuns coach also said the 10-inning 4-3 victory may help shake his team out of its early-season doldrums — especially with Sun Belt Conference play only one week away.
“You have to try to keep it in perspective,” Robichaux said after the Cajuns' first win over the Tigers since 2014. “It’s one game. But we pitched good, we played good defense. Sometimes you can get a little momentum and fan the embers and try to get it to a bigger flame.”
Robichaux is hoping that fire keeps burning this weekend when South Alabama (7-6) comes to Russo Park for a three-game series beginning at 6 p.m. Friday.
Even though the Cajuns (5-7) and the Jaguars make up the most heated baseball rivalry in the Sun Belt, the weekend series will not count in the conference standings. The 12-team Sun Belt uses a 10-weekend season, meaning that each league team does not play one team each year on a rotating basis.
South Alabama is the Cajuns’ odd team out this season, but the two schools’ coaches got together and were able to schedule this nonconference series.
Both teams had hoped for more at this point. South Alabama, in fact, was 7-1 before losing five straight games, but those came by 7-6 to Auburn and four weekend losses at No. 3 Texas Tech, when the Jaguars were outscored 36-12.
“We know we have a great ball club coming in here,” Robichaux said. “They’re going to be mean after losing four out of five. We’re going to have to be ready.”
The Cajuns’ offensive woes weren’t as apparent Wednesday since they matched their season high in hits (11) and had six of those in the final three innings. That included their first three-run inning of the season in Wednesday’s eighth inning when three straight bunts led to two runs and Hayden Cantrelle’s two-out single provided the third run and a 3-1 lead.
However, all 11 hits Wednesday were singles, and LSU showed what can happen with one big hit when LSU pinch hitter Austin Bain’s two-out double in the ninth scored two runs and forced extra innings.
Bain, who came in relief in the ninth and recorded three outs, allowed a leadoff ground-ball single to Lahare to lead off the bottom of the 10th. Windham came up with the bases loaded and two outs and stroked a dying line-drive single that fell in front of LSU center fielder Zach Watson for the game-winner.
Five LSU pitchers struck out 14 batters, and the Cajuns had the bases loaded with no outs in the second inning, only to have LSU starter AJ Labas strike out the side without allowing a run. After that, UL-Lafayette had one runner until the eighth inning and had 13 straight batters retired at one point, much to the chagrin of a standing-room crowd of 5,499.
UL-Lafayette goes into the weekend series hitting only .189 as a team, and has had four or fewer hits in six of its 12 games. But the Cajuns have only allowed 37 earned runs in those 12 games, just over three per game.
“You try to look for a spark along the way,” Robichaux said. “Playing so many close games leading up to this was good for us.”
Junior right-hander Nick Lee (0-0) is slated for Friday’s start for the Cajuns against USA senior right-hander Tyler Carr (1-1).