Cajuns bats rain down

Louisiana-Lafayette showed off its big-hitting bats against LSU — at least through five innings.

That was more than enough.

The Ragin’ Cajuns toppled the top-ranked Tigers 4-1 in a rain-shortened affair halted in the sixth inning Tuesday night.

UL-Lafayette handed LSU (7-1) its first loss of the season, ending its 34-game winning streak in midweek matches and its 32-game streak over Louisiana teams.

“All this loss really means is that we’re not going to go 56-0,” coach Paul Mainieri said. “It’s frustrating because you’d like your first loss of the year to be a real, full-game loss.”

Rain and lightning halted this top-10 showdown at Alex Box Stadium in the top of the sixth.

The Ragin’ Cajuns (8-1) had six hits and chased LSU starter Cody Glenn after four innings. They were threatening in the sixth, too, after chasing reliever Alden Cartwright.

UL-Lafayette’s Seth Harrison had a stand-up triple in a two-run third inning, and the Cajuns got the leadoff man on board in three of Glenn’s four innings.

The game was stopped nearly two hours into the affair, at 8:23 p.m., because of lightning. The announced crowd of 6,159 at Alex Box scrambled for the exits, heavy sheets of rain fell and the team’s tarp crew raced onto the field.

It ruined a rare top-10 showdown between Louisiana clubs. It was the first time since 2008 that LSU faced a ranked in-state team and the first time in, maybe, more than a decade that two Louisiana teams met with both in the top 10.

LSU (7-1) is ranked No. 1 in at least one poll. UL-Lafayette (8-1) is as high as No. 10.

The Cajuns showed why.

Returning eight players from a lineup that led the NCAA in home runs last season, UL-Lafayette dinged Glenn early and often in a rematch of last season’s NCAA Baton Rouge Regional final.

“I thought we played well up to this point, but you want to play all nine. It is what it is,” UL-Lafayette coach Tony Robichaux said. “I thought the hitters did a good job, and we played solid defense.”

LSU’s bats — and its shuffled starting lineup — couldn’t muster an answer for the Cajuns’ bats against starter Greg Milhorn, a junior-college transfer from Arkansas.

The Tigers had four hits, and only center fielder Andrew Stevenson’s fifth-inning triple got out of the infield.

LSU’s middle of the lineup struggled again. The group was 1-for-6.

“We have to get out of this mode of constantly hitting fly balls,” Mainieri said.

“You can’t have any good luck happen if you just hit a lazy fly ball. We’ve got to be better at that.”

LSU batters flew out seven times in 15 outs Tuesday.

Second baseman Kramer Robertson, thrust into the starting lineup, had his honeymoon end.

The freshman entered the game batting .429 in just two starts and had a half-dozen web gems, one featured on SportsCenter’s top 10 plays.

Robertson, the son of Baylor women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey, made a base-running blunder and was thrown out at home.

He also bobbled a grounder for an error in the sixth — the final play of the shortened game.

His base-running miscue came in the third.

With two outs, UL-Lafayette shortstop Blake Trahan made a diving stop of Mark Laird’s grounder.

And Robertson, running from second, wheeled around third and headed for home. The throw easily beat him.

“He ran us right out of the inning with (Alex) Bregman coming up to bat,” Mainieri said. “Those are experiences that he’ll learn from.

“I’d like to call them freshman mistakes, and maybe that’s what they are.

“That’s why I was waiting to put Robertson in.”

With Robertson at second, Conner Hale moved to first base. Mainieri also shifted his outfield.

Right fielder Jared Foster’s struggles at the plate (.130 average) forced the coach to replace Foster with Laird, who played right field.

Sean McMullen, usually the designated hitter, played in left field.

Another scoring chance for the Tigers passed in the fifth inning.

Bregman grounded out to shortstop to strand two runners.

Mainieri said: “They certainly out-played us for the first five and a half innings of the game.”