On the second weekend of the season, the UL Ragin’ Cajuns scored 15 runs in the series against Sam Houston State, but the bullpen faltered and five runs per game resulted in getting swept.
The following weekend, five runs per game would have produced a pretty comfortable sweep when the bullpen quickly turned things around, only for the bats to run away and hide in somehow winning two out of three over Maryland.
Somehow, UL coach Tony Robichaux is hoping his Cajuns (3-7) can get the best of both worlds from those two critical areas when they travel to Thibodaux on Tuesday to meet Nicholls State (7-5) and then head to Lake Charles on Wednesday for McNeese State in a pair of 6 p.m. games.
“First, you have to learn how to set the table and then you have to learn how to clean the table,” Robichaux said after Saturday’s doubleheader sweep despite going 1-for-28 with runners in scoring position. “Right now, we’re not doing that.”
With each blown scoring opportunity, the frustration began to build both in the dugout and in the stands at Russo Park, despite winning 4-3 in 14 innings and 2-1.
“We have some good at-bats and then we go into bad at-bats and some funks,” Robichaux said. “ I think the game continues to give you what you struggle with until you can slay it. I’ve always said that. The monster’s going to show up that you created and you’ve got to learn how to slay him.
“You can define the moment or you can let the moment define you.”
As hard as it’s been for the UL Ragin’ Cajuns to corral their second win of the season, perhaps it was fitting that in came in the fashion it …
With each failure, Robichaux became more and more dependent on the bunt to try to take advantage of the 24 free bases Maryland provided the Cajuns in the doubleheader.
“(The bunt) gives me control over, ‘I can win it right here or I can tie it right here.’ I don’t have to hope to tie it,” Robichaux said. “Now, if we botch it, we botch it. But right now, the numbers tell me I have a better chance of squeezing than hitting because of all of what we’ve been doing.”
His real hope, though, is these two midweek games will give him enough confidence to alter that approach soon.
“I don’t want to squeeze my way to Omaha,” he said. “That’s hard to do, right? Sometimes, we’ve got to be able to sit and hit. But right now, some guys are struggling and some guys are swing-and-miss guys and we’re marred in a situation where we’re not doing a good job with runners 90 feet away yet.”
One problem was taking too many called strike threes. Robichaux said Maryland deserved more credit for some of those.
“These guys pitch in a lot,” he said. “Offensively, we look out. I mean, 76 percent of pitches are on the outer half of the plate. And we want to roll anything that’s on the inside and take our chances on it. This team does a good job of coming back in with two strikes. Most people don’t do it.
“Hopefully that won’t be something that hangs out all year. Now the called third away, that’s inexcusable.”
It’s not really a do-over.
UL at Nicholls State
Game: 6 p.m., Tuesday.
Place: Ray Didier Field in Thibodaux.
Records: UL 3-7; NICH 7-5.
Radio: KPEL 1420 AM.
Series: UL leads 73-54.
Last year: UL won 2-1 in Lafayette.
Projected UL starter: RHP Jacob Schultz (0-0, 0.61 ERA, 14.2 IP, 10 H, 5 BB, 11 K, .189)