Hot start allows Troy to avoid ULL sweep

LAFAYETTE — After dropping the first two games of their Sun Belt Conference baseball series, the Troy Trojans knew it was important to come out strong Sunday.

That they did. Their first six batters getting hits on the way to a four-run first inning, and Troy didn’t look back in a 10-4 win over Louisiana-Lafayette in the series finale at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field.

Troy opened the game against ULL starter Cody Boutte with six straight singles, including RBI singles by Danny Collins, Trae Santos and Matthew Howard and a fourth run scoring on an error.

The Ragin’ Cajuns never recovered, although the second of two two-run homers by Dex Kjerstad cut the margin to 5-4 in the sixth inning. However, the Trojans (21-9, 7-5 Sun Belt) pushed across three runs in the seventh off ULL reliever Matt Hicks and added single runs in the final two innings.

“It was huge for us to get off to that kind of start,” said Troy coach Bobby Pierce, whose team snapped an 11-game home win streak for the Cajuns (22-9, 6-6 Sun Belt).

“We’d gotten shut down last night and we were feeling sorry for ourselves, so we needed to come out like that.”

After that, Boutte (5-2) only allowed a lone run over the next five innings, that coming on Jakob Nixon’s RBI single in the third.

“They got us early, but give Boutte credit,” ULL coach Tony Robichaux said. “He didn’t let it get away from him, but our bullpen didn’t keep us there.”

The Trojans wound up with 16 hits in support of starter Shane McCain (6-0), who threw a complete game despite giving up 14 hits to the Cajuns.

“He made some key pitches in key spots,” Pierce said of McCain, who walked none and fanned six while not allowing an RBI hit to any Cajun, except for Kjerstad.

“He was fortunate on some of them ... they (ULL) hit some balls hard, but they were at our guys. We had a night like that Friday ... we had nine extra-base hits and couldn’t get a win.”

The Cajuns, who had taken 7-6 and 9-2 wins on Friday and Saturday, cut the margin to 4-2 in the second on Blake Trahan’s two-out double and Kjerstad’s homer off the scoreboard. In the sixth, Logan Preston led off with a single, and one out later, Kjerstad launched a full-count McCain pitch over the left-field wall to make it a one-run game.

However, Howard’s two-run double and a following RBI single by Josh McDorman — one of his four hits in Sunday’s game — built the lead to 8-4. The Trojans scored one on a throwing error in the eighth, and Collins had a leadoff homer in the ninth for insurance runs.

The Cajuns wound up with 14 fly-ball outs, six of them hauled in on the track by Troy outfielders.

“Without the wind blowing in, I really think we would have scored 10 runs,” Robichaux said. “But that’s what the park does to you. We hit some deep, but the key is that when you don’t stay away from the three-run inning, that’s going to bite you.”