Louisiana-Lafayette rallies in middle innings to defeat Southeastern Louisiana

HAMMOND — Louisiana-Lafayette erased a three-run deficit and turned the tables on Southeastern Louisiana with seven runs over the middle innings, paving the way to a 9-5 victory in nonconference baseball Tuesday night at Alumni Field.

It was the Ragin’ Cajuns’ first victory over Southeastern in their last 10 meetings. Their most recent win in the series had been March 5, 2008, when they defeated Southeastern 3-1 at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field.

The Cajuns also ended a three-game losing streak that began last weekend at Middle Tennessee.

ULL (18-6) used a three-run fourth inning to create a 3-3 tie, then broke the tie on Tyler Girouard’s RBI infield single in the fifth inning. The Cajuns added three more runs off the Lions bullpen in the sixth to gain breathing room.

A pair of doubles in the bottom of the sixth helped Southeastern (18-8) score two runs, trimming the Cajuns’ lead to 7-5. Matt Hicks closed out the sixth and retired the Lions in order in the seventh.

Caleb Adams hit a two-run single in the eighth, providing insurance for Hicks, who earned his eighth save of the season.

ULL starter Chase Traffica gave up one run in each of the first three innings. Traffica gave up just five hits, and three of the Lions’ came without benefit of a base hit.

Hicks, who pitched the final 3.2 innings for the save, moved within one of the school’s single-season saves record (Justin Robichaux has nine). With 12 career saves, Hicks also tied the school record (Kraig Schambough, Justin Robichaux).

The Cajuns return to Sun Belt Conference play for an Easter weekend series against Western Kentucky in Bowling Green, Ky.

Adams had a game-high three RBIs, and Tyler Girouard extended his season-best hitting streak to nine games. Dex Kjerstad posted a multiple-hit game for the fifth straight time, finishing 2-for-5.

Traffica picked up the victory. Kaleb Manuel was charged with the loss for Southeastern after giving up four runs (three earned) in five innings.

The Lions manufactured a run without benefit of a hit in their first at-bat. Ladd Rhodes drew a leadoff walk, moved to third base on back-to-back groundouts and stole home.

SLU picked up another run in the second inning after Sam Roberson singled through the left side, stole second base then on a steal of third base scored when Nick Thurman’s throw was out of Girouard’s reach.

A diving catch by Adams down the left field line and a Traffica strikeout with a runner on base helped the Cajuns close out the Lions half of the second inning.

The Lions’ lead grew to 3-0 after a single by Rhodes, stolen base, sacrifice bunt and sacrifice fly from Harry Slade in the third inning.

ULL responded, evening the score in the top of the fourth inning. An infield single by Michael Strentz and walk by Chase Compton set the stage for the Cajuns rally. A Seth Harrison double, Jace Conrad groundout followed by a wild pitch that scored Harrison, knotted the score at 3.

Traffica retired the Lions in order for the first time, and then the Cajuns took their first lead of the night in the top of the fifth on Girouard’s infield single. Traffica kept the momentum on the Cajuns side by retiring the Lions in order a second straight inning as ULL maintained a 4-3 lead after five complete.

The Lions began the sixth with a pitching change, but lefthander Matt Pittari did not retire any of the three Cajuns he faced and left with the bases loaded and no outs.

A four-pitch walk after a pitching change brought home the Cajuns’ first run of the inning and prompted another Southeastern pitching change. The Lions’ third reliever, Brennan Catalano, gave up an RBI single to Thurman and the Cajuns added a third run on an Adams fielder’s choice grounder, upping the Cajuns’ lead to 7-3.