To UL baseball coach Tony Robichaux, Tuesday’s 6-5 comeback win over No. 14 LSU in front of 8,667 in Metairie was certainly encouraging.
He wanted his Ragin’ Cajuns to enjoy it as much as possible — up until a certain point. At that juncture, it was time for all the focus to shift to this weekend’s Sun Belt Conference series at Texas-Arlington, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
METAIRIE — Truthfully, UL senior Handsome Monica doesn’t really enjoy the challenge of following a teammate who just blasted a ball out of the park.
“It’s a mid-week win,” Robichaux said. “All your fans want to ‘woo-hoo’, but it’s a mid-week win.
“We’ll let them enjoy this until we get across the bridge, and then we’ll get ready for what we’ve got in front of us.”
Don’t be deceived by that typical response to a mid-week win. There are more layers to Tuesday’s win that.
The next concern for Robichaux is his Cajuns not getting burned by the change in venue.
UL baseball’s 2019 season continues to be a series of rebounds for the Ragin’ Cajuns, mostly of the defensive variety.
“You’re leaving to go to a stadium (at UTA) that’s going to have maybe 500 people this weekend,” Robichaux said. “I’ve had it many times not be right.”
Indeed, the Mavericks (25-13, 11-4 Sun Belt) have the best record in the Sun Belt but had 700 fans in their previous home game … $1 taco night against Baylor.
But it goes deeper than that.
The LSU win got the Cajuns back to .500 at 2-20 for only the second time this season and now face arguably their stiffest test the rest of the way as UL attempts to get its head above water in time for the postseason.
Saturday’s win over South Alabama and this win over LSU were of the comeback variety. In other words, that adds to the big-picture significance.
This time, it could mean more than a mere mid-week win.
“We’re not a big come-from-behind team, but now that we’ve started coming from behind — we did that this weekend — we’re trying to gain the pieces we didn’t have for a second run,” Robichaux said. “The bullpen is lining up, the starters are lining up — we’re getting Gunner (Leger) back and we’ve always played pretty good defense. But we hadn’t come from behind a lot. Now we’re starting to do that. We’re just trying to pick up all the pieces we have to try to make a second-half run.”
Things didn't look good for UL pitcher Jack Burk a few days ago.
The comeback’s method was also encouraging to Robichaux, who saw two of his top power hitters in Orynn Veillon and Handsome Monica unleashed furious swings in their back-to-back homers in the eighth for the win.
“The big thing we’ve been trying to preach to them is to get their swings off,” Robichaux said. “That’s what their kid did (Cade Beloso with three-run homer to tie it Tuesday). He got his swing off. When you get your swing off, you can do damage.
“Credit to them; they got their swings off. I think we’ve been better at this weekend, learning how to get our swings off when we’re doing to swing. When you do that, sometimes you’re going to run into something and when you do, you can do some damage with it.”
Kole McKinnon’s offensive numbers don’t put him among UL’s baseball leaders, but coach Tony Robichaux doesn’t mind at all seeing the Ragin’ Ca…
Unfortunately, the Thursday-through-Saturday holiday series this weekend might prevent the next step in UL’s reconstruction plan for the 2019 season. Robichaux’s winning formula Feb. 1 was Leger starting on Friday, Brandon Young on Saturday and Jack Burk on Sunday, while complementing them with a good bullpen.
That was derailed the first weekend.
“We hadn’t been able to get Gunner where we wanted him or Brandon where we wanted him or Jack where we wanted him,” Robichaux said. “Finally, things are kind of settling a little bit with the pitchers. Gunner did a six-out save this week, and he wants to do a nine-out save next week(end). We need to build his pitch count up to come back and start.
“Hopefully, we can not run out of time and get Gunner back to Friday and Brandon on Saturday and Jack Burk on Sunday — all up and running. That was our goal from opening day.”
UL coach Tony Robichaux has been trying to do better than a 3-2 week all season long.
Robichaux said Monday moving the series up a day wouldn’t likely allow him to move Young or Burk this weekend, but perhaps next week.
Also, the rest of the conference has cooperated. Another winning weekend and suddenly UL’s credentials a month away from postseason play would be as good or better than any other team in the Sun Belt.
“The one thing we’re trying to get them to do is to stay the course,” Robichaux said. “There’s a lot of parity in the conference this year, which is good. Not many people are just running away with it. Everybody’s kind of all bunched up. That’s good for us.”
UL at UT-Arlington
Series: 6:30 p.m. Thursday; 6:30 p.m. Friday; 2 p.m. Saturday.
Site: Clay Gould Ballpark, Arlington, Texas
Radio: KPEL 96.5 FM.
Records: UL 20-20, 8-7; UTA 25-13, 11-4
UL hitters: Hayden Cantrelle (.322, 8 HRs, 22 RBIs); Todd Lott (.314, 4 HRs, 21 RBIs); Hunter Kasuls (.299, 3 HRs, 18 RBIs). Team: .259, 215 runs, 42 HRs, 72 SBs
UTA hitters: Connor Aube (.357, 1 HR, 17 RBIs); Zac Cook (.313, 1 HR, 24 RBIs); Anthony Dominguez (.297, 4 HRs, 30 RBIs). Team: .273, 220 runs, 21 HRs, 34 SBs
UL pitchers: Austin Perrin (3-4, 4.72 ERA, 47.2 IP, 53 H, 11 BB, 34 K); Brandon Young (2-3, 3.64, 29.2 IP, 22 H, 18 BB, 44 K); Jack Burk (1-0, 2.95, 21.1 IP, 20 H, 6 BB, 14 K). Team: 4.63 ERA, 363.2 IP, 351 H, 177 BB, 321 K
UTA pitchers: David Moffat (3-2, 3.66, 51.2 IP, 52 H, 12 BB, 32 K); Ka’ikepono Anderson (6-3, 5.51, 50.2 IP, 57 H, 14 BB, 45 K); Cade Winquest (5-1, 3.79, 40.1 IP, 31 H, 19 BB, 42 K). Team: 4.18 ERA, 342.2 IP, 365 H, , 138 H, 280 K