LAFAYETTE — It took seven innings for someone to score in Sunday’s rubber match between the Louisiana-Lafayette and Texas State baseball teams. And once it happened, Ragin’ Cajuns coach Tony Robichaux did not hesitate.
After the Cajuns took a one-run lead in the seventh, Robichaux committed to sending closer Dylan Moore to the mound to get the last six outs. Moore proceeded to do what he has done all season, slamming the door shut on a 1-0 win at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field.
“Automatic,” Robichaux said of his decision to put Moore in for the eighth inning.
Moore needed 29 pitches to record his 10th save of the season — his sixth that required more than three outs — and all Texas State was able to muster was an infield single that glanced off both Moore and shortstop Brad Antchak’s glove in the ninth.
“That’s what I’ve been doing all year,” Moore said. “My mindset is just to get us off the field as fast as possible and get the hitters back out there to hit.”
Since giving up an earned run in a non-save situation against Little Rock on March 20, Moore has been virtually unhittable. Sunday’s appearance marked his 10th straight without giving up a run, earned or unearned. In those appearances, he has thrown 18.2 innings, allowed just three hits and struck out 19 against five walks.
“The guy’s good, man,” Robichaux said. “If you get a chance to get him in there, you’ve got to get him in there.”
But before the Cajuns (27-13, 12-6 Sun Belt) could put Moore in position to nail down the win, they needed to get the lead. Freshman right-hander Nick Lee was excellent in a no-decision, matching his career high with eight strikeouts over six innings of two-hit ball.
“My fastball wasn’t really on today, but my off-speed pitches were,” he said. “I was able to use what I had today and strike out a lot of people.”
But Texas State left-hander Jonathan Hennigan matched Lee with six scoreless innings, allowing just three hits.
Both teams had their chances to push a run across against the starting pitchers. The Bobcats (22-19, 10-8) loaded the bases with one out in the fourth, sandwiching a single between a pair of walks, but Lee struck out Dylan Paul and induced a lazy fly ball to right field to end the inning.
The Cajuns put runners in scoring position in the first, second, third, and fifth against Hennigan but could not find the big knock to send a run home. They never did connect on a big hit, but their selective eye against the Bobcats relief corps earned them a win.
Texas State removed Hennigan after the sixth, and a quartet of relievers combined to hand the game away. Left-hander Anthony Pagano (0-1) picked up two quick outs to start the seventh, then walked Stefan Trosclair and Kyle Clement to bring righty Brian Mills to the plate.
Texas State coach Ty Harrington went to the bullpen again for submarine style righty Quinn Atwood; Robichaux countered by sending in lefty Hunter Kasuls off the bench.
Kasuls walked on five pitches to load the bases for dangerous lefty Steven Sensley — and Harrington went to his bullpen again, this time for righty Chase Hodson. The move didn’t pay off: Sensley walked on four pitches to bring home the go-ahead run.
The Cajuns lost Saturday’s game 2-1 because of a bases-loaded walk in the seventh inning.
“The game paid us back,” Robichaux said. “We gave them one; they gave us one. It is what it is. Pitching and defense, you don’t believe it, there it is right there.”
The Bobcats’ fourth pitcher of the inning, senior right-hander Pasquale Mazzoccoli, struck out Joe Robbins to leave the bases full. But one run would be enough.
Right-hander Eric Carter (2-0) earned the win after notching a scoreless seventh inning. Carter has been almost as good as Moore lately, allowing just one run in his last nine appearances. He gave up a one-out single to Paul but forced Luke Sherley to ground into an inning-ending double play on the next pitch.
Robichaux knew it was time for Moore after his team got the lead, though.
“As good as Carter is, it’s unbelievable that you can sit a guy down that’s that good for another guy,” Robichaux said. “That’s a huge luxury for us.”
The Cajuns are scheduled to play another five-game week this week; they will send sophomore righty Evan Guillory to the mound at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Southern Miss. Robichaux said both Carter and Moore would be available for that game.