The Cajuns did not play one of their better games this season in dropping the series opener to Arkansas State 10-4.
Their bullpen had an off night, their starter went from lights out to tough-luck loser, and their offense didn’t back either of them up.
As usual, we’ll look at the good and the bad from Friday night’s game. First, as always, the good.
- GUNNER LEGER’S START TO HIS START: For 3.2 innings, Gunner Leger looked as good as he has all season. He is leading all starters in strikeouts per nine innings despite not throwing the ball very hard, and the reason is that he has grasped the art of pitching at a tender age. The changeup is a hard pitch for young pitchers to master, because they can get by with their fastball in high school. Leger had his working early, using it to get a couple swinging strikeouts, and he had the A-State batters off-balance because of it. He’ll bounce back from those rough 1.1 innings to end his start.
- BRIAN MILLS GOES YARD: The Cajuns junior left-fielder socked a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth inning to knot the game at two runs apiece. It was his first career home run, and he got all of it. He also made a nice running catch near the warning track in the left-center power alley to rob extra bases. He’s been a nice surprise hitting near the bottom of the order, and his batting average now stands at a healthy .294 on the season.
- TROSCLAIR DOUBLES AGAIN: Another positive sign that Trosclair is fully removed from a two-week swoon at the plate. He hammered a run-scoring double for the third consecutive game, again to left-center field, to cut the Red Wolves’ lead to three in the bottom of the eighth.
- TURNING OFF THE FAUCET: This was the analogy du jour for coach Tony Robichaux, whose staff allowed the Red Wolves to pick up five of their first seven runs in innings they started with two outs. A pitch here or a defensive play there could’ve gotten the Cajuns out of all of those innings and it would’ve been a completely different ball game. But, as Robichaux said several times after the game, they didn’t turn the faucet off and a leak turned into a deluge again and again.
- CLUTCH HITTING: The Cajuns got the leadoff runner aboard in each of the first three innings, but the only time they were able to make anything happen was with the benefit of a throwing error by Arkansas State’s catcher in the third. They had a chance to get to Arkansas State pitcher Tyler Zuber early thanks to Zuber’s uncharacteristic command troubles (3 BB, 2 HBP in first three innings), but they weren’t able to do it and Zuber settled into a groove, lasting six innings.
- BAD LUCK — AND EXECUTION: The Cajuns could’ve minimized the Red Wolves damage with better results in either of these two areas. Two key hits landed just inches past Greg Davis outstretched glove for blooper base hits, another glanced off Leger’s glove on what might’ve been a rally-killing double play. But the Cajuns also didn’t take advantage of their opportunities. The Red Wolves’ fourth-inning rally started when Leger lost a two-strike breaking ball that plunked a batter. A surefire inning-ending double play in the fifth turned into a run-scoring error when Brenn Conrad lost control of a ball while attempting a tag on a ground ball to second. The Cajuns also had this string in the eighth inning to turn a close game into a four-run Arkansas State lead: Walk to load the bases, passed ball to score a run, walk to load the bases, walk to score a run.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
9: Walks issued plus batters hit by pitch by four Cajuns pitchers. See ensuing quote.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
“We can not give people free bases. It’s going to be tougher for us to recover because we don’t have the firepower that we had last year. We’ve got to keep the score down.” — Tony Robichaux.
LAST LINE LIMERICK
With two outs the Wolves dug in
Again, and again, and again,
The Cajuns mistakes put runners on base
And Arkansas State cashed in.