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THREE UP, THREE DOWN: Red Wolves 10, Cajuns 4

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.

THREE UP

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

THREE DOWN

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

THREE UP, THREE DOWN: Colonels 3, Cajuns 1

The Cajuns played a sloppy defensive game and it cost them in a midweek loss to Nicholls State, who has now topped the two premier programs in the state this season.

It wasn’t all bad for the Cajuns, but there were plenty of things they can work on after Wednesday’s effort.

First, the good.

THREE UP

  1. RARELY USED PITCHERS: Connor Toups hasn’t gotten much of a chance this season to get a lot of work in, but he made the most of his six innings Wednesday despite being credited with the loss. Of the eight hits Nicholls picked up off him, only four left the infield and all three of his runs were unearned. This was only his second appearance of the season, but he didn’t show much rust. He was aggressive in the zone and did not walk a batter. He would’ve walked away a winner if the defense backed him up. The same goes for Nick Zaunbrecher  and Reagan Bazar, both of whom last appeared in a game on March 4 against Northwestern State. No rust from those two, who cruised through three scoreless innings allowing just one base runner.
  2. STEFAN TROSCLAIR: Tuesday night’s hero came up with the lone big hit of the ball game when he lined a double into the left field corner to drive in the Cajuns only run of the night. He also got a ninth-inning rally started with a five-pitch walk to open the frame. After getting off to a hot start, Trosclair went into a 3-for-23 skid and was out of the lineup for four consecutive games. But he’s started each of the last five and has rediscovered his stroke a bit, with seven hits in his last 21 at bats. He’s also on a five-game hitting streak.
  3. RALLY TIME: It was not a good overall night for Cajuns hitters, but they made a game of it late, loading the bases with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning. They weren’t able to cash in on the opportunity, but after so much didn’t go their way early, it was a good sign to see the team battling hard in the ninth.

THREE DOWN

  1. KENNON FONTENOT: This space is not intended to pile on a young player looking for answers, but the Cajuns have got to figure out what’s going on with their young infielder. He let a routine ground ball roll between his legs Wednesday, which means he’s now tied for the team lead in errors (6) despite only playing in nine games. Tony Robichaux was high on Fontenot before the year, and I don’t think this is representative of his talent as a fielder. Maybe his early season struggles have gotten in his head, but at this point he’s a liability on the defensive end. The good thing is he has a lot of time to turn around what’s been an inauspicious start as an infielder, and my bet is that he does it.
  2. TOO HOT CORNER: Tyler Girouard was out of the starting lineup again with hamstring soreness — something Robichaux said was precautionary — but the Cajuns could use him back out there. Brenn Conrad made a pair of costly errors while playing third, and Joe Robbins made another immediately after he replaced Conrad at third. Girouard made another pinch-hit appearance in the ninth, when he slapped an opposite field single to make the Cajuns’ rally serious, but they need him back in the field.
  3. QUIET STICKS: The Cajuns have been a very good offensive club all year, but they couldn’t muster much against the Colonels’ pitching staff. They were held without a hit for the first three innings, and had only five before the ninth inning rally started. It might’ve been enough to win the game had the defense played up to standards, but the Cajuns needed more than that Wednesday night.

STAT OF THE NIGHT

4 – Errors committed by the Cajuns infield, three of which directly led to Nicholls State runs.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

“It’s a real simple game, you pitch, you play defense and you hit. Tonight we did one thing. You can’t do one thing and expect to win.” Robichaux, who has a knack for making complicated things simple.

LIAR OF THE NIGHT

The wonderful and talented Jay Walker of ESPN 1420 decided to have a little fun with me over the air during his broadcast by saying how much I love John Fogerty’s Centerfield during the seventh inning stretch. He even went as far as saying on his broadcast that I sing it in the shower. Those of you who read this blog or follow me on Twitter simply know that’s untrue (though I hope nobody really knows what I sing in the shower), but of course I can’t defend myself against the guy with the microphone. That’s a low blow, Jay…

WISDOM GAINED

Bad things happen when you leave the keys in the ignition of your vehicle, like one idiot (read: me) did Wednesday night. Worse, it was my motorcycle, which of course does not have locks or doors. Somebody could’ve easily stolen my bike. Thankfully, the good folks attending the game left their thieving hats at home, and instead my battery just died. Moral of the story: Don’t be a dummy, take your keys with you.

Maybe I shouldn’t be evaluating the performance of others after a night like tonight? Nah.

 

THREE UP, THREE DOWN: Cajuns 6, Cowboys 5 (11)

The Cajuns delivered a little payback in Lake Charles, swiping an extra-innings win against McNeese State exactly one month after the Cowboys beat the Cajuns in 17 at the Tigue.

There was a lot to like about this performance from the Cajuns, who have seen five of their last six games decided by one run, and a few things that will be filed in coach Tony Robichaux’ memory bank for things to improve on. Let’s take a look at them.

THREE UP

  1. BULLISH ON THE ‘PEN: Yet another standout performance from the Cajuns bullpen, who locked down the Cowboys after starter Wyatt Marks left the game. Will Bacon, Colton Lee, Chris Charpentier and Dylan Moore logged eight scoreless innings while striking out 11 batters, allowing the Cajuns offense to get the team back in it. If you’re like me and you’re counting these sorts of things, here’s the bullpen’s line in two games against McNeese: 21 IP, 18 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 23 K.
  2. DYLAN BUTLER: Somewhat lost in the dramatic finish and fine performance by the bullpen was Dylan Butler’s excellent day batting out of the eight hole. He was responsible for the lion’s share of clubbing the Cajuns out of a four-run hole, with a two-run laser over the left field wall and an RBI single that tied the game at five.
  3. FINDING A WAY: Though it sucked for his team to lose three consecutive games in the last inning, Robichaux said it was critical for his young team to go through that and experience that feeling. Maybe he’s on to something. The Cajuns didn’t look so hot early, but clawed back into the game and eventually won the thing. It wasn’t the prettiest performance and won’t go down as a season-defining type of game, but good teams find a way to win games like this one.

THREE DOWN

  1. MISSED OPPORTUNITIES: Even after giving up a pair of runs in the bottom of the first, the Cajuns had their chances at blowing the game open against McNeese starter Cory LaPeze, who had all kinds of trouble finding the strike zone. But the Cajuns just couldn’t crack the code. LaPeze walked the Nos. 8 and 9 hitters to bring up Blake Trahan with the bases loaded in the second inning, but Trahan watched a called third strike. The Cajuns then had runners on second and third in the third inning, but Joe Robbins struck out on three pitches. After tying the game up, the Cajuns had two good opportunities to plate the go-ahead run, but they ran into two rally-killing outs on the basepaths — Brenn Conrad was caught in a rundown at the plate on a failed double steal and Joe Robbins was picked off at first by the catcher in the seventh.
  2. TOUGH LUCK, WYATT: Freshman starter Wyatt Marks would do best just to purge this outing from what has been a great start to the season. The bounces were going McNeese’s way early, with balls finding holes they probably shouldn’t have, but it was the three straight hits Marks gave up to start the third that was his undoing. It was made worse when Marks fielded a squeeze bunt perfectly and had the runner dead to rights at home, but he spiked his throw into the turf, allowing the runner to score. Marks showed some resiliency, getting three straight outs to get out of the jam, but he should flush the rest of that start.
  3. WEIRD BALL PARK MUSIC:  Y’all are familiar with my opinion of John Fogerty’s Centerfield, so let’s not go there. But McNeese took it to another level by finding seemingly every song written about our national pasttime in the last 70 years and playing it over the speakers — even if it only has a cursory reference. Just because Nickelback wants a “bathroom I can play baseball in” in the song Rockstar doesn’t mean it needs to play at a ball park. Nor do I need to hear a weird song straight out of the 50s about baseball and a “Hullaballoo.” I love baseball more than a lot of things, but just because a song is written about it doesn’t make it a good or enjoyable song. If you’d like to respond to this hot take of mine, you can find me chilling with the Grinch.

STAT OF THE NIGHT

5 – Bases covered by Nick Thurman on two separate Stefan Trosclair hits to left field. He went first to third on a single to left, which was a great heads up play because Thurman has no business going first to third on a single to left field. He also scored the game-winning run from first base on Trosclair’s double to the left field corner. Thurman’s not a burner on the base paths, but he had enough in the tank tonight.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

“Adrenaline can do lots of things. It can even make me fast.” — Thurman, who might’ve been joking.

ON THE CUTTING ROOM FLOOR

  • Jam Williams did not travel with the team because he was involved in a minor traffic accident Tuesday morning. Robichaux said Williams was a little sore, nothing more, but he wasn’t able to see the team doctor so he couldn’t make the trip. Williams should be fine for Wednesday’s game.
  • Tyler Girouard did not start the game because of a sore hamstring, but he entered the game as a pinch hitter in the 11th. He should be fine moving forward.
  • Robichaux was credited with 19 more career wins by McNeese Tuesday before the game. He spent the 1987 season as the head coach in every aspect but title, and the school saw fit to officially attribute those wins to his slate.

RANDOM THOUGHT OF THE NIGHT

I love the atmosphere at the Tigue, but being at Cowboy Diamond made me remember that I miss one thing in particular: there’s no better way to get a feel for the game than to be sitting in an open air press box. Hopefully that’s part of the upcoming renovations.

THREE UP, THREE DOWN: Cajuns 10, Trojans 5

Brooms!

The Cajuns completed the sweep of Troy Sunday with a 10-5 win thanks to some timely hitting from senior first baseman Greg Davis and another lockdown performance from the bullpen. It was an imperfect game for the Cajuns, but they keep chugging along as winners of six straight.

Here’s a look at what went right, and what still needs some work after the Cajuns finished off an undefeated week.

THREE UP

  1. GREG DAVIS’ WHEELS: Who knew the big guy could motor like that? Davis hit a sinking liner into left-center that skipped under a diving center fielder Shaw Pinnell’s glove, and Davis saw an opportunity for a rare triple. He cruised into third base with a bases-clearing triple, igniting both his teammates and the crowd. After the game, Davis was joking about the fact that he doesn’t get an opportunity for a triple unless the outfielders are stumbling around. We won’t get the opportunity to recognize a Davis triple often, so let’s lead off with it today.
  2. BLAKE TRAHAN’S BAT: I’m going to keep this one real simple. Here’s Trahan’s stat line from this weekend: 6-for-10, 5 2B, 1 HR, 6 R, 4 BB, 3 IBB, 1 HBP. That’s a .600 batting average, a .733 OBP, and a 1.40 slugging percentage. The quiet kid from Kinder continues to let his play speak for itself.
  3. BULLPEN’S DOMINANCE (AGAIN): This is getting a little old hat, though I’m sure y’all don’t mind a bit. The Cajuns young bullpen has become the team’s strength. Wyatt Marks and Dylan Moore tossed another 4.1 innings of awesome relief to lock down the win Sunday. Check out this line from the Cajuns bullpen this weekend: 15.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 7 BB, 25 K. TWENTY. FIVE. That means they struck out 40 percent of the batters they faced. A really good number is 33 percent. Just as crazy, the Cajuns only used four pitchers out of the pen this weekend, and those four threw more innings than the three starters did (13.2). The Trojans hit just .113 against the Cajuns bullpen.

THREE DOWN

  1. SQUEEZED OUT: As I’ve said before on this blog (and I’m sure I’ll say again and again), Tony Robichaux has forgotten more than I’ll ever know about the sport, so I’ll usually cede to his expertise when it comes to strategical matters. Plus, this play ended up being inconsequential. That being said, I didn’t understand why Robichaux opted for the squeeze attempt in the first inning with Trahan on third and Davis at the plate with one out. The Cajuns were in a 2-0 hole, so I understand wanting to get a run back early, but the chances of driving the runner in from third with one out and a masher like Davis at the plate are pretty high. I didn’t like the call when I first saw it, I didn’t like the call when Davis didn’t get a good bunt down, and I still don’t like it now.
  2. RAN DOWN: Trahan played his tail off this weekend, but he probably wants what happened after the failed squeeze back. With Tyler Girouard at the plate, Troy starter Ben Tidwell threw a wild pitch, but it didn’t get too far away from catcher Tripp Calhoun. Trahan made his break for the plate and was easily caught in a rundown.
  3. CRAZY HOPS: I don’t know why, but I always thought turf would eliminate some of the nasty hops you’ll usually see on dirt and grass infields. That didn’t prove to be true on a third-inning ground ball to Trahan, who was set up for a routine inning-ending double play before the ball hopped and nearly took his face off. Trahan was able to glove it, but it threw him out of rhythm and resulted in an infield single.

STAT OF THE DAY

5 – Greg Davis’ pair of bases-loaded knocks in the sixth and seventh innings drove in five runs and turned a close game into a comfortable win.

STATS OF THE WEEKEND

6 – Trahan collected six hits on the weekend, and every single one of them went for extra bases, with five doubles and one home run. The best thing about it, in my opinion, was that not all of them were ripped. Trahan turned at least two of those from singles into doubles based purely on his speed and hustle. Six also represents Trahan’s season-long hit streak.

45 – The Cajuns pitching staff missed a lot of bats this weekend — 45 in 29 innings of work to be precise. Three straight double-digit strikeout games for the Cajuns pitchers, who rung up 19, 13 and 13 in the three-game set.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“When the game volume gets loud, we want to quiet our personal volume. The crowd gets going, the adrenaline gets going, you want to slow things down.” — Greg Davis on his solid handle of the clutch dial.

WISDOM GAINED

Blake Trahan proved why he’s the face of this program in the last week, but the program also proved that it’s more than just Blake Trahan. He’s elevating the play of others, and they’re making sure pitchers can’t just throw around him.

THREE UP, THREE DOWN: Cajuns 6, Troy 2

The three-run homer is a Tony Robichaux standby … when he’s talking about what his own pitchers should avoid. But it was Troy that fell victim to a three-run blast at the Cajuns’ hands, and Dylan Butler’s homer in the sixth inning gave the Cajuns more than enough breathing room in a 6-2 win. They’re now winners of five straight, and I’m finding it increasingly harder to find some stuff to nitpick over — but hey, nobody’s perfect.

The Cajuns will go for a series sweep tomorrow, with first pitch coming at 1 p.m. Here’s a look at three things that went right for the Cajuns, and three things that could use a little work.

THREE UP

  1. DYLAN BUTLER’S RESURGENCE: Dylan Butler has been a streaky hitter throughout his career, and that is certainly ringing true based on his start this season. After the conclusion of the Alabama series, he was hitting just .111 and was not an every day member of the lineup. But Robichaux must’ve sensed he was about to break out of it, and Butler is hitting .400 (4-for-10) in his last three games. When he’s going good, Butler might have the best power stroke on the team and he showed it off when he pounced on a hanging curve ball, sending it bounding off the midway portion of the left field foul pole for the aforementioned three-run shot.
  2. FIVE SIDES OF BACON: I just promised someone on Twitter that I wouldn’t make a pun out of Bacon’s last name, but I’ve already told you guys about my problems with self control. Anyway, Bacon was really impressive Saturday. He struck out six in five scoreless, hitless innings of relief. It wasn’t a perfect outing, as Bacon walked three and hit another, but for the most part he attacked the zone (51 strikes on 79 pitches) and he did yeoman’s work bailing out Greg Milhorn  (4 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K) after a short outing.
  3. SMALL BALL WINS, TOO: Troy’s got a good one in starting pitcher Grant Bennett, who breezed through the Cajuns lineup for four innings after giving up a leadoff double to Blake Trahan. But the Cajuns started getting to him in the fifth by using small ball tenets. Joe Robbins led off with a bunt single, then went first to third when Kyle Clement hit behind him on a hit and run. Robbins scored the tying run on Brian Mills’ safety squeeze, and Clement moved to third when Bennett’s flip to the plate got away from him and rolled into foul territory. Clement scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly. Butler’s home run is sexy, but the Cajuns got it done using every tool at their disposal.

THREE DOWN

  1. MILHORN’S COMMAND: He was bailed out by Bacon, so this wasn’t that big of an issue today, but Milhorn’s walk numbers were high again. With three more walks today, Milhorn is up to 12 in just 18.1 innings this season. All those free passes have meant the senior starter has only gotten out of the fifth inning once in four starts. The Cajuns bullpen has been up to the task of going deep, but Milhorn has to start locating better as the season goes on.
  2. TROY’S BUNTING ABILITY: I know this section is all about what the Cajuns need to work on, but the outcome could’ve been different here if Troy could’ve executed some Baseball 101. The Trojans had multiple opportunities to move some of those walks into scoring position Saturday, but they blundered them away. After Clay Holcomb led the game off with a walk, Nick Masonia popped his bunt up to first base. Greg Davis made a diving grab, and doubled off Holcomb at first. Then in the second and third innings, a pair of Trojan bunts were bounced sharply to Milhorn, who turned and fired out the lead runner in both instances. It wasn’t just today, the Trojans also struck out on a key two-strike bunt opportunity Friday.
  3. HOT, HOT CORNER: I’ve been harping on defense a lot lately, but that’s the only phase of the Cajuns game that still — in my opinion — needs a lot of work. Tyler Girouard committed his fifth error of the season Saturday when he misfired on a throw to first in the second inning. I thought he could’ve had a play at the plate, but he opted to go for the safe out and uncorked a wild throw instead. As I’ve said previously, I think the Cajuns — specifically Girouard and Trahan — will get better in this area (and Trahan made a couple fine plays today, I might add). But Girouard’s fielding percentage is currently .839, and he needs to turn that around. Girouard is not alone. As a team, the Cajuns are fielding at a .957 clip right now on the year, and that’s down more than 20 points from last year’s club.

STAT OF THE NIGHT

3 – The Cajuns left just three runners on base Saturday.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

“That ball hung in there for a while, and I finally put a good swing on it.” Dylan Butler, on his home run stroke.

WISDOM REAFFIRMED

If he hangs it, bang it.

THREE UP, THREE DOWN: Cajuns 6, Troy 5 (11)

The Cajuns pulled off a dramatic 6-5 win on Greg Davis’ walk-off 11th inning single at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field. It didn’t get off to a great start, but the Cajuns put together what turned out to be a dominant pitching performance in their Sun Belt Conference opener.

With that, let’s take a look at what went right and what still needs a little work after the Cajuns started off their league slate with a bang.

THREE UP

  1. COLTON LEE’S SLIDER: The JUCO transfer had trouble locating his fastball with the first few batters he faced, but once he committed to throwing his wipeout slider he was damn-near unhittable. Lee racked up nine — NINE! — strikeouts in 3.2 innings out of the bullpen, and most of them came courtesy of the filthy thing he calls a slider. What’s especially encouraging is he was throwing it to both sides of the plate, and it takes some guts to start a big sweeping slider aimed behind a right-handed hitter. I wrote about this pitch last week, but this was the best it’s been and it’s a huge reason why the Cajuns won Friday.
  2. BOOMSTICKS ENGAGED: The Cajuns connected on a pair of big flies Friday night, with Nick Thurman’s first career homer — an opposite field shot, no less — knotting it up at three in the first inning and Blake Trahan’s two-run moonshot putting the Cajuns ahead in the fourth. Those two hitters have been scalding hot during the Cajuns four-game win streak, and they kept it going Friday night.
  3. POISE, OLD AND YOUNG: That was one heck of a performance by Evan Guillory, who settled into a groove after he was hammered for hits by five of the first six Trojans he faced. He got a little help from his mates to get out of the first inning, but he basically went into cruise control after taking a roundhouse kick to the head in the first. That’s exactly what you want to see out of a young pitcher. Another freshman, Dylan Moore, couldn’t have come up with a more clutch strikeout than he did in the ninth, when he froze the Trojans No. 3 hitter with a 2-2 fastball to leave the bases loaded with the score tied. Moore was dominant, retiring all seven Trojans batters he faced. But it’s not all youth for this club, and senior Greg Davis was the man of the hour after the game after his bloop single scored Jam Williams to win it in the bottom of the 11th. They’d been pitching Williams inside all night, and he went 0-for-5 with two flyouts to left, two grounders to the left side and a strikeout. He went up to the plate trying to hit the ball up the middle, and that’s what he did. Ball game.

THREE DOWN

  1. GLOVE (AND ARM) WORK: Two more errors for the Cajuns tonight, and both of them were committed by upperclassmen (Trahan and Thurman). Trahan’s error could’ve proved very costly when he booted a ball to load the bases in the ninth inning of a tie game. Thurman’s error came on the third pitch of the game, when he chucked a throw into center field on a stolen base attempt, allowing Troy leadoff man Clay Holcomb to reach third base. Like I’ve said before on here, errors are going to happen, but the Cajuns really need to cut down on them, especially at crucial times of the game. I’ve seen what Trahan can do with his glove, and I still think he’s a really good defensive shortstop, but he specifically needs to cut down on his errors. That’s now six through 13 games.
  2. TOP HALF OF THE FIRST: We’ve already discussed how impressive Guillory was after the first, but that half inning was nightmarish. The Trojans had already built a three-run lead before he even reached the 10-pitch mark, and were threatening for more when Trevin Hall followed Logan Hill’s homer with a double. Lucky for the Cajuns, Thurman nailed Hall trying to steal third right before designated hitter David Hall roped a single into center field that would’ve surely plated Trevin Hall, and the Cajuns got out of the inning keeping the damage at three runs.
  3. NO RELIEF FOR RELIEF: I have all the faith in the world in Colton Lee, who seems to be particularly adept at multiple innings saves, but he was gassed in the ninth inning. His fastballs were consistently coming in at 84-85 on the stadium gun after Lee was hitting 88 the first few innings, and he’d lost his command. I’m going to go out on a limb and say Tony Robichaux knows his team better than I do, and since he’s been coaching baseball longer than I’ve been alive, he probably knows the game better than I do too. But personally, I would’ve made the call to take Lee out of there in a one-run game once I saw his stuff wasn’t the same. *** Unrelated sidenote: Lee ended up throwing 70 pitches Friday, and is burned for the weekend.

STAT OF THE NIGHT

19: Strikeouts tallied by Guillory, Lee and Moore, which is a season-high. Fourteen of them came in relief from Lee and Moore. Those dudes missed a lot of bats.

6: Greg Davis extended his hitting streak to six games with his piece of timely hitting in the 11th inning. He’s now reached base in all 13 of the Cajuns games this season.

10-for-15: After picking up three hits in four at bats Friday, Blake Trahan is 10 for his last 15. He’s raised his batting average more than 100 points in that span.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

“The game will find a person who is struggling a little bit and put them in that big situation. I had a chance earlier to end the game … but the game kept putting me there.” — Greg Davis, who was 0-for-5 with a team-high three left on base before his game-winning knock.

USELESS INFORMATION THAT IS INTERESTING NONETHELESS

The Cajuns, apparently, use menthol shaving cream for their celebratory shaving cream pies. Both Dylan Moore and Nick Thurman got them after the game. Moore even toughed it out and finished the interview with shaving cream in his mouth (which is why you all now know the Cajuns shaving cream preference).

BASEBALL PREGAME: Ragin’ Cajuns vs. Troy

GENERAL INFO

  • What: Ragin’ Cajuns (7-5) vs. Troy (7-5)
  • When:6 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday, 1 p.m. Sunday
  • Where: M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field
  • Starting pitchers
    • Friday
      • Cajuns: Fr. RHP Evan Guillory (1-0, 4.30)
      • Trojans: Fr. RHP Cory Childress (2-0, 1.35)
    • Friday
      • Cajuns: Sr. RHP Greg Milhorn (0-0, 4.91)
      • Trojans: Jr. RHP Grant Bennett (2-0, 0.90)
    • Sunday
      • Cajuns: Fr. LHP Gunner Leger (2-0, 2.50)
      • Trojans: TBA

 

  • Radio play-by-play: 96.5 FM, Steve Peloquin
  • TV: MyKLAF TV (Friday)
  • Internet streaming options:ESPN3 (Friday)
  • In-game Twitter updates: @LukeJohnsonAdv
  • On deck:University of New Orleans, March 10, 6 p.m.
  • In the hole:@ Southern, March 11, 6 p.m.

LINKS TO KNOW

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

  • The Cajuns get a chance to open SBC play against a solid Troy team, and they will definitely be tested in the series. The Cajuns have had an up-and-down beginning to the season as they’ve figured out how to integrate some of their youth, but they’ve been playing really solid baseball since losing in 17 innings to McNeese. A series win against a good team to open up conference play would further validate these youngsters’ growing confidence.

WHAT TO WATCH

  • The Trojans have what has arguably been the best 1-2 punch at the top of their rotation through the first few weeks of the season in Childress and Bennett, who have combined to yield just five earned runs in 40 innings of work this season. The Cajuns roll into this series with hot bats, pounding out 35 hits in their three-game winning streak against some good pitching, but it’ll be a challenge on Friday and Saturday.
  • Speaking of pitching, the Cajuns will start two freshmen on the mound this weekend in Gunner Leger and Evan Guillory. The two have, as coach Tony Robichaux loves to say, pitched “above their chronicalogical age” this season (yes, I know it should read chronological, but I’m consulting the Big Book of Robe-isms here). It’ll be interesting to see how they fare now that the games really start meaning something.
  • Nick Thurman and Blake Trahan have been outstanding in the batter’s box lately. Trahan has reached base in nine of his last 12 plate appearances, and Thurman is among the league leaders in extra base hits (7) despite only having 35 at bats this season. Yes, he has an extra base hit percentage of .200.
  • Greg Davis is working on a five-game hit streak and has reached safely in all 12 Cajuns games this season.
  • I’m pretty sure the entire Troy team has taken to growing mustaches this season. Seriously, all of their pictures on the team website feature mustachioed men.

KNOW YOUR OPPONENT

  • Troy burst out of the gates this season, winning seven of their first nine, but they’ve cooled some since then, losing three straight entering this weekend. They’re a balanced team, with the aforementioned duo of Childress and Bennett locking down the front end of the weekend and a lineup that features seven regulars batting .293 or better.

STARTING LINEUPS

TROY

  1. Clay Holcolmb, CF (.293)
  2. Nick Masonia, 2B (.304)
  3. Logan Hill, RF (.326)
  4. Trevin Hall, 1B (.405)
  5. Reid Long, LF (.300)
  6. David Hall, DH (.340)
  7. Matt Sanders, SS (.308)
  8. Bert Givens, 3B (.149)
  9. Tripp Calhoun, C (.217)

RAGIN’ CAJUNS

  1. Blake Trahan, SS (.360)
  2. Brenn Conrad, 2B (.295)
  3. Greg Davis, 1B (.327)
  4. Tyler Girouard, DH (.237)
  5. Nick Thurman, C (.457)
  6. Joe Robbins, CF (.250)
  7. Kyle Clement, LF (.200)
  8. Dylan Butler, RF (.143)
  9. Stefan Trosclair, DH (.278)

Ragin’ Cajuns spring practice report: Day 2

The Cajuns second day of spring practice was up to coach Mark Hudspeth’s standards. His guys were flying around the practice field and he praised them afterward for putting so much effort into practice.

… But y’all don’t want to read about how much effort they put into practice do you?

We once again were able to watch a sort of two-minute drill today, this time with Brooks Haack running the first team and Jalen Nixon running the second team. Here is how they fared.

  • Haack: 3-4, comfortable in the pocket, worked through his progressions and showed off an accurate arm on downfield throws. Connected with Gabe Fuselier on a deep out. Pretty throw.
  • Nixon: 2-4, one interception, not quite as comfortable in the pocket but he was working with the second team line and was having to deal with consistently low snaps from his center (later). Might not be fair to compare him and Haack when neither are in pads and Nixon can’t show off his elusiveness, but Haack is obviously a more advanced passer. Nixon did stay alive long enough for Jacob Beasley to sneak behind the defense for a big gain.

Neither were given real credit for their passes. Complete or incomplete, five-yard pass or 40, the coaches would move the ball up in standardized increments to set up a game-winning field goal attempt.

Walk-on Dylan Scheurich (first time I saw him) drilled his one and only attempt from 36 yards, getting congratulations from his teammates afterward. When I say drilled, I mean that thing was center cut. Good kick.

The outcome wasn’t as good for Aaron Bird, who yanked his first two attempts (both from the same 36-yard distance) wide left. Bird split the uprights on his third attempt.

Here are some other things I noticed from the Cajuns second day of spring camp.

  • This is really my first time seeing Simeon Thomas work as a football player, and it’s easy to see why new defensive coordinator Melvin Smith is infatuated with him. Thomas looks like an SEC corner with his 6-foot-3 frame. Thomas is currently running with the starters, and he forced a Nick Byrnes fumble in practice today.
  • Watch out for Matthew Barnes. He had a failed attempt to transition to slot receiver early last year, but he has looked really good running routes out there in just shorts and a helmet. For the second straight day, Barnes hauled in a deep pass down the seam. He’s working behind Byrne right now, and Evan Tatford is out with an injury, but he could force someone’s hand and find himself in the lineup sometime.
  • Speaking of Melvin Smith, he is a chatterbox. Constantly saying something, and at one point he even started singing. He’s bringing a lot of energy to the Cajuns defense.
  • Jordan Davis stayed after practice to throw routes with Barnes. Was out there for a good bit working while I waited to speak with Hudspeth.
  • Sophomore center Ian Bjuro was getting second team reps at center, but he was struggling to deliver the snaps to Nixon during the scrimmage portion, with several low snaps.

THREE UP, THREE DOWN: Ragin’ Cajuns 8, Northwestern State 2

The Cajuns had a lot of things go their way in an 8-2 win against Northwestern State, so much so that I had a difficult time coming up with three things that could use a little more work. They breezed past the Demons to sweep the season series, and played well in all three phases of the game — mostly.

Here are a look at three things that went well for the Cajuns Wednesday night, and three things that didn’t go so well, a blog post we’ll call Three Up, Three Down, as well  as links to our coverage from the game and other things that may interest me. First off, our coverage.

GAME STORY: Check back later.

THREE UP

  1. THE POTENTIAL OF JAM WILLIAMS: Freshman Jam Williams got the first start of his career, and he showed off his bountiful physical gifts despite never hitting a ball out of the infield. In the third inning, Demons leadoff man David Fry hit a hot shot to third that Tyler Girouard couldn’t quite handle, and the ball bled into left field. Williams galloped over to the ball, then had the awareness to unleash a cannon to second base where his perfect throw nabbed Fry, who was trying to leg out a double. Then, after Williams drew a walk to lead off the bottom of the third, he got inside the pitchers’ head. They threw over to first two or three times, then called a pitch out. On the next pitch, Williams was off, and he swiped second so easily that the catcher didn’t even make a throw. THEN he got such a good jump on an ensuing pitch that he also stole third without a throw. Kid’s got wheels. He finished the night 1-for-3 at the plate with an infield single and three stolen bags.
  2. NICK THURMAN IS EN FUEGO: The junior catcher picked up hits in his first three at bats, completing a stretch where he picked up nine hits in 14 at bats. His bases-loaded single in the fifth started a five-run inning for the Cajuns, and he improved his batting average to a stellar .457 in the game, all while expertly managing the Cajuns young pitching staff.
  3. REDEMPTION GAMES: It’s been a rocky start to the year for Dylan Butler and Chris Charpentier, but both had potentially break through performances Wednesday. Butler, who entered the game hitting just .111, hammered a two-run double off the wall in left-center to complete the five-run fifth. Charpentier, who was demoted from his spot in the weekend rotation after a pair of rough starts, fired a scoreless inning in his first relief appearance of the season. The Cajuns will need both these guys to perform as the season goes on.

THREE DOWN

  1. THE YOUTH OF JAM WILLIAMS: Williams showed off some tremendous talent on the field Wednesday, but he also showed that he has room to grow as a player.  He went back to second base on Stefan Trosclair’s single in the fifth that would’ve surely been a run had he read it right. When Greg Davis, the next batter, hit a ground ball to third base with the bases loaded, Williams again held up at third base, and the Demons turned a 5-2-3 double play. These had no impact on the game, but it shows that Williams is still a raw player. Tony Robichaux said after the game that Williams’ youth showed on those plays, but he’ll learn. I agree with Robichaux here. Williams will be a very good ball player before it’s said and done, but he still needs time to learn and make mistakes.
  2. DEFENSIVE MISCUES: Blake Trahan and Tyler Girouard each committed an error in the first few innings, and Dylan Butler made an ill-advised dive attempt that led to a triple and a run. Errors and mistakes happen, but the Cajuns need to clean up this area of their game, especially from some of their most experienced players. The good news is that Trahan shook off his error to make a few phenomenal plays he’s grown accustomed to making at short later in the game, and Giroaurd made a diving stop later in the game. Again, the guess is the Cajuns will be fine in this department as the season progresses, but they need to start cutting down on some of the errors once league play starts this weekend.
  3. MY WAISTLINE: Kudos to the Cajun Cooking Club for bringing up the delectable meats to the press box on a fine Wednesday night, but do you have to make it so good? I couldn’t muster a smidgen of self control, and now I hate myself as I sit here typing out this blog with a stomach full of pork and chicken. Oh, was this just supposed to be baseball related? I couldn’t think of another thing the Cajuns had to work on from Wednesday’s game. Solid all-around performance.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

“He’s just a freshman and he’s a football player playing baseball. He’s got some growing to do, but he’s been doing good, he’s been coming. You can keep him in intersquads, but he needs some of these real time things to be able to see what he’s going to do in those situations. He’s a good learner, he’s done a great job all fall for us getting better defensively, and then once he starts to be able to put the ball in play with those wheels, getting savvy, he’s going to be a good one. Our goal was to take him in as a piece of clay and just be patient with him, just keep molding him. Even in Alabama, the coaches were coming up to us after BP and going, ‘Who is that?’ That’s the presence he has, and he’s just a freshman. That’s huge.” — Tony Robichaux on Jam Williams.

STAT(S) OF THE NIGHT

2: Walks issued by the Cajuns pitching staff, which used seven pitchers to hold the Demons to just six hits on the evening. It was an economical evening to say the least from the Cajuns pitchers.

95, 96, 96, 98, 78: That  is the pitch speed in miles per hour of the five-pitch sequence Reagan Bazar used to freeze Demons catcher Matthew Alford in a ninth-inning strikeout. Bazar fireballed four straight fastballs to Alford before freezing him on a beauty of a 2-2 breaking ball. When Bazar has command of his pitches, and he’s able to change speeds like that? Good luck.

WISDOM GAINED

If each piece of pork I ate represented a mile I needed to run, as sports information director Ben Rikard let me know as I went up for what must’ve been my third helping, I’m due for a 10-mile run tomorrow (and that’s a conservative estimate).

BASEBALL PREGAME: Ragin’ Cajuns vs. Northwestern State

GENERAL INFO

  • What: Ragin’ Cajuns (6-5) vs. Northwestern State (6-6)
  • When:6 p.m. Wednesday
  • Where: M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field
  • Starting pitchers
    • Cajuns: So. LHP Connor Toups (0-0, 0.00)
    • Demons: Sr. LHP Hunter Duvic (0-0, 0.00)
  • Radio play-by-play:1420 AM, Jay Walker
  • Twitter updates: @LukeJohnsonAdv
  • TV: None
  • Internet streaming options:None
  • On deck:Troy, March 6-8 (SBC opener)
  • In the hole:University of New Orleans, March 10, 6 p.m.

LINKS TO KNOW

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

  • The Cajuns have won their last six meetings with the Demons, and have won 14 of the last 18. But the really important thing here is for the Cajuns to keep playing the way they did against Alabama. Coach Tony Robichaux said last year’s team – and really, all the best college baseball teams for that matter – was arrogant. Arrogance is usually frowned upon, but it can be a useful tool when you’re trying to build off success. I don’t think Robichaux meant he wants his team to take anybody lightly, but he does want it to believe in itself, and it got its first start toward that end by winning two of three against Alabama.

WHAT TO WATCH

  • Shortstop Blake Trahan is starting to heat up at the dish. He pounded out four hits with four RBIs in the Cajuns series finale against Alabama, raising his batting average to .340 in the process. Trahan got off to a bit of a slow start this season, both in the batter’s box and in the field, but he looks like he’s starting to find his stroke, and that’s bad for the Cajuns opponents.
  • Local product Connor Toups is finally getting to see his first action of the year today, getting the start on the mound against the Demons. Robichaux has been trying to work him into the mix for a couple weeks now, but hasn’t had the opportunity. The Demons struggled against Gunner Leger the first time these teams met this year (a 7-3 Cajuns win), and Robichaux thinks Toups – with his left-handed two-seam/changeup combo – is similar to Leger as a pitcher.

KNOW YOUR OPPONENT

  • Northwestern State second baseman Chase Daughdrill was virtually the Demons’ only form of offense the first time these two teams met, hammering a home run and a double off Cajuns pitching in the loss. He’s kept that up for most of the season, and is the only Demons regular batting better than .300 this season (.318, 2 HR, 5 RBI). As a whole, the Demons have struggled at the plate, hitting just .222 as a team. A whopping five Northwestern State regulars are hitting below the Mendoza
  • The Demons pitching, on the other hand, has shown flashes of brilliance. Evan Tidwell just spun a two-hit shutout gem against ULM last night, and as a staff, the Demons have a solid 3.28 earned run average. The pitcher they’ll throw against the Cajuns, Hunter Duvic, is making his first start of the year, but he fired two scoreless innings against the Cajuns in the first meeting, striking out three.

STARTING LINEUPS

Ragin’ Cajuns

  1. Blake Trahan, SS (.340)
  2. Stefan Trosclair, DH (.265)
  3. Greg Davis, 1B (.340)
  4. Tyler Girouard, 3B (.257)
  5. Nick Thurman, C (.433)
  6. Joe Robbins, CF (.244)
  7. Dylan Butler, RF (.111)
  8. Brenn Conrad, 2B (.317)
  9. Jam Williams, LF (.000)

Demons

  1. David Fry, 2B (.185)
  2. Matthew Alford, 3B (.170)
  3. Caleb Dugas, 1B (.195)
  4. Cort Brinson, LF (.318)
  5. Chase Daughdrill, DH (.318)
  6. CJ Webster, C (.200)
  7. Cade Jones, RF (.429)
  8. Joel Atkinson, SS (.263)
  9. Nick Heath, CF (.176)

If you’d like a more complete version with stats, here is a picture of both team’s lineups with their full statistics.