Postgame fireworks celebrated the opening of UL-Lafayette baseball’s finally-completed M.L. Tigue Moore Field on Friday night.
Unfortunately for the Ragin’ Cajuns, those were the first fireworks of the night, as the Cajun offensive struggles continued in a 8-2 home opening loss to Wright State.
The Cajuns (1-4) entered Friday’s contest with only 16 hits through their first four games and striking out nine times per game. Against Wright State starter Ryan Weiss, UL-Lafayette got three hits in seven innings and scored both of its runs in the third inning on a ground ball and a sacrifice fly.
Six times in nine innings, the Cajuns went three up, three down in collecting four hits and only five baserunners.
“We hit the ball hard tonight and drove some balls, but we only had four hits to show for it,” said Cajuns coach Tony Robichaux. “It looks like they’re loosening it up a little bit better, and we’re getting the barrel above the ball.”
It didn’t help that the Raiders (1-3) posted four runs in the top of the first inning off Cajuns starter Jack Burk (0-2), including a two-run triple by Gabe Snyder and a pair of unearned runs after a one-out throwing error.
Wright State also added three runs in an eighth inning that included a hit batter and two bases-loaded walks to the Raiders’ seven through nine hitters.
“The bottom line is we can’t stray from our pitching,” Robichaux said. “They jumped us in the first inning, and when we bring the bullpen in late, I know it’s going to be inexperience, but we’ve got to keep the score down because we’re not a team that can get in a firefight.”
A crowd of 5,196 celebrated the first game in the completed stadium, after the facility was partially used in the 2017 season. The number surpassed the official seating capacity of 4,850 and was the sixth-largest attendance in UL-Lafayette history. It was also the second-largest opening night crowd, behind the 5,250 for last season’s home opener against Southern Miss.
Weiss only allowed one leadoff hitter to reach base in his seven innings and recorded six strikeouts with one walk. Kennon Fontenot’s leadoff single in the third, a walk to Kole McKinnon and Zach LaFleur’s single loaded the bases with no outs before Gavin Bourgeois’ ground ball scored Fontenot and Hayden Cantrelle’s fly ball to right plated McKinnon.
By that time, though, UL-Lafayette trailed 5-0 on a single by Peyton Burdick and Seth Gray’s RBI double in the third inning. Burk settled down after that double and retired 14 of the final 15 batters he faced, but relievers Grant Cox and Brett Williams struggled to find the strike zone in the Raiders’ three-run eighth before Williams retired the final four Raiders he faced.
“We got the game back relevant at 5-2 but let the game get away from us with the bullpen,” Robichaux said. “Jack did settle in and started to locate the ball better. But we gave up that one more run; if we keep that off it’s 4-2, but we didn’t.”
The teams will play the second game of the series at 2 p.m. Saturday, with the finale at 1 p.m. Sunday.