LAFAYETTE — Louisiana-Lafayette’s baseball team may be better offensively than its 2012 counterparts, but when it gets to crunch time, Ragin’ Cajun coach Tony Robichaux wants his pitchers to shine.
That’s what the Cajun hurlers did for a third straight day, getting a third straight quality start and getting just enough offense to take a 3-2 victory over UL Monroe on Sunday. The win gave ULL (16-3, 3-0) a sweep of its opening Sun Belt Conference series, one in which Cajun pitchers held the visiting Warhawks to two runs in each of the three games.
“All our arms did a great job all weekend picking up our hitters, especially (Sunday),” Robichaux said. “We played quality baseball all weekend long, which is what this team is committed to doing. ... They’re letting yesterday go and continuing to move forward.”
It was junior left-hander Cody Boutte’s turn Sunday, with the New Iberia native and former LSU-Eunice standout checking ULM (8-12,, 0-3) on six hits in 8.1 innings. Reliever Matt Hicks came on to get the final two outs for his seventh save of the season in front of 2,380 at Moore Field.
Boutte (4-0) walked one and struck out five, allowing single runs in the third inning on Jeff Fuller’s RBI single, and in the seventh on Ryan Bergeron’s sacrifice fly after Chris Dudley’s leadoff triple to right field.
“(Boutte) got stronger as the game progressed,” Robichaux said. “He started locating down and started to mix and go back-and-forth. It’s a game of timing, and he handled the timing very well (Sunday).”
The Cajuns answered ULM’s third-inning run in the bottom of that inning against Warhawk starter Alex Dumaine (1-1). Blake Trahan led off with a solo homer to left field, and Caleb Adams followed with a double to left-center before scoring the go-ahead run on Tyler Girouard’s bouncing single up the middle.
ULM reliever Tyler Bray kept the Warhawks close, coming on for Dumaine in the fourth and throwing 4.2 innings of relief with seven strikeouts and working out of bases-loaded jams in the fourth and fifth innings. But ULL pushed across a run in the sixth when Seth Harrison singled with one out and eventually scored on Girouard’s single to right for a 3-1 lead.
ULM, which has lost six straight, including falling 9-2 and 5-2 to the Cajuns in the first two games of the series, had a major threat in the ninth when Kodie Tidwell and Dudley both singled with one out. Hicks came on in relief and quickly loaded the bases with a throwing error on pinch hitter Brandon Alexander’s ground ball.
But pinch hitter Corben Green bounced back to the box, Hicks threw to catcher Michael Strentz for the force of Tidwell at home. Hicks then got Dalton Herrington to ground out to extend the Cajuns’ winning streak to five heading into a home against Southern at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
ULL had 11 hits, their most in the series, but stranded 14 base runners, including leaving the bases loaded in three straight innings.
“Our hitters have done a great job so far this season,” Robichaux said. “And when they’ve been so good for so long, it’s time that our pitchers pick them up.”