Southern’s dramatic turnaround, highlighted by a seven-game win streak, has been followed by an abrupt turn in the other direction.
One night after the win streak ended with a home loss to Jackson State, the Jaguars were mercy-ruled by UL-Lafayette, losing 14-1 in eight innings Wednesday night at Lee-Hines Field.
The Ragin’ Cajuns took the lead for good in the first inning when Stefan Trosclair homered for the fourth time in five games, and they went on to score in all but one inning. Trosclair added a single and a double and drove in three runs. Each starter had at least one of UL-Lafayette’s season-high 18 hits.
Southern, meanwhile, had five hits.
“We were outmatched,” Jaguars coach Roger Cador said. “It happened right out of the chute and we just couldn’t overcome that.”
UL-Lafayette starter Eric Carter (1-1), making just his third appearance of the season, dominated the Jaguars. After throwing just 2.1 innings in the first 30 games, he went seven innings and held Southern to five hits, one walk and one run in his first appearance in five weeks. He struck out 11, a season high for Cajuns pitchers.
“I knew that they’re a free-swinging team, so I wanted to establish the fastball early and we took it from there,” Carter said. “The offense was really active tonight. They were getting their jobs done and hitting in key situations, and that makes it easy to pitch.”
Carter set the tone early, striking out the side in order in the first and getting two more strikeouts in a 1-2-3 second. He was clocked at 94 mph in both innings.
“He kept his fastball down in the zone,” said Gavin Webster, who had two of the hits off Carter. “He struck out five of the first six, and when you go three-up-and-three-down in the first two innings, that kind of takes the life out of a team.”
Jaguars cleanup hitter D.J. Wallace sat out because he experienced dizziness a day after injuring his nose on a slide into second base.
Southern (10-17) will try to get back where it was when it hosts Loyola for a doubleheader Saturday. UL-Lafayette (18-13) hosts Jackson State in a three-game series beginning Friday.
“I think we kind of got complacent with that little winning streak,” Webster said. “We relaxed a little and now we have to get back at it.”
After Trosclair’s solo homer, the Cajuns increased the lead to 2-0 in the second on Blake Trahan’s RBI triple, which extended his hit streak to 22 games, one shy of the school record. The first two rallies started with two outs.
“J’Markus got two outs, but then he couldn’t put them away,” Cador said. “That was devastating for him.”
The lead grew to 3-0 in the third when Trosclair led off with a single, stole second, moved to third on Tyler Girouard’s single and scored on a wild pitch.
George had a scoreless inning in the fourth before allowing a two-run homer to Evan Powell in the fifth and giving way to Ryan Flynn to start the sixth.
Flynn gave up an RBI groundout out to Trosclair and RBI singles to Greg Davis and Nick Thurman to make it 8-0 in the sixth.
Trosclair doubled home the ninth run in the seventh before Torres drove in Southern’s run with a single in the bottom half.
The Cajuns scored five runs against Jacob Polk in the eighth.
Carter threw 90 pitches before giving way to Reagan Bazar, who needed just five pitches to throw a scoreless eighth.
“The chart said they struggled a little bit against velocity, so we wanted to keep the guys that had some velocity out here,” UL-Lafayette coach Tony Robichaux said. “Eric did a good job setting a great tempo for us.
“He’s thrown well in intersquads and stuff. He stays throwing. That’s the work-while-you-wait syndrome right there. You work while you wait. He’s throwing bullpens, live at bats, an intrasquad game. That’s what you have to do, work while you wait. The game paid him back for working while he waited.”
Follow Les East on Twitter: @EastAdvocate.