It’s just four games at the beginning of a long college baseball season.
So far, however, there are some early trends UL coach Tony Robichaux is already getting tired of, as well as a few he’s beginning to warm up to.
The Cajuns’ next opportunity to correct the bad and try to extend the good comes this weekend with a three-game road series against Sam Houston State at Don Sanders Stadium in Huntsville, Texas.
It’ll be the first time in two years the Cajuns meet Sam Houston coach Matt Deggs, a former UL hitting coach, with UL winning two of three on the road in 2017.
Coming into this baseball season, most of the questions revolving around the UL Ragin’ Cajuns’ prospects this spring revolved around the pitch…
“We’ll be fighting another guy who is a good hitting coach,” Robichaux said. “Another style of hitting that can chase freshmen out of the strike zone, so it’s going to be another good test for our freshmen (pitchers).”
On Wednesday, the Cajuns fell to 1-3 despite more solid pitching. Louisiana Tech, which scored 40 runs in a three-game sweep of Southeastern in the opening weekend, scratched one across in the bottom of the 10th inning to edge UL 3-2.
The loss spoiled good pitching performances by starter Jacob Schultz, with five scoreless innings with two walks and three strikeouts, and reliever Michael Leaumont, with no unearned runs in 3 1/3 innings with two walks and five strikeouts.
“The more we can keep just weathering these arms, stay off results and stay on the process of trying to grow them up by the time we hit conference, (the better),” Robichaux said. “We don’t want to say we have young pitchers by the time we get to conference. I know they’re still freshmen. But by the time we hit conference, we don’t want to use that word anymore. We’ve got to continue to grow them and get them weathered.”
But while the pitching has been promising in the early going, several other areas have produced plenty of early-season frustration.
Showing up again Wednesday was poor defense at the wrong time.
It got far too interesting for UL-Lafayette baseball fans Sunday on Tigue Moore Field at Russo Park.
A year ago, UL finished No. 11 nationally in fielding percentage. This season, the Cajuns already have committed nine errors in four games for a subpar .945 fielding percentage.
A throwing error led to a one-out baserunner in the bottom of the 10th to spark Tech's game-winning rally.
The other area Robichaux hopes will improve in Huntsville over the weekend is getting that key base hit to produce the win in the big situations.
Two more key hits would have led to a sweep of Texas, Robichaux said, and UL stranded two runners in scoring position in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s extra-inning loss. Those lost opportunities quickly ended potential momentum-grabbers for the Cajuns.
When you think of how hard it is to get on base in baseball, it almost seems impossible to achieve.
“Baseball’s built on momentum,” he said. “You want to stay way from momentum. In baseball, once you get momentum, you can be the Yankees. When you don’t have momentum, you can be the Bad News Bears. Momentum changes everything.”
Over the first weekend, Gunner Leger and Dalton Horton each delivered five solid innings, while game two starter Brandon Young struggled. Officially, Austin Perrin is scheculed to start Friday and Horton on Saturday with Sunday undetermined.
Sam Houston’s starters so far have been: LHP Matt Dillard (2 1/3 IP, 2 ER, 4 BB, 3 K), RHP Hayden Wesneski (7 1/3 IP, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 K) and LHP Seth Ballew (3 2/3 IP, 6 ER, 1 BB, 4 K).
UL at Sam Houston State
Series: 6:30 p.m. Friday; 3 p.m. Saturday; 1 p.m. Sunday.
Radio: KPEL 96.5 FM.
Records: UL 1-3; SH 2-1.
Last Series: UL won 7-0, 6-1, lost 8-3 in 2017 in Huntsville.
Season results: UL lost to Texas 3-1 in 10; lost Texas 6-5; beat Texas 8-6; lost La. Tech 3-2 in 10; SH lost Virginia Tech 32; beat Stetson 4-3; beat Manhattan 12-7.