UL-Lafayette baseball team tries to weather trip to Tulane

LAFAYETTE — Louisiana-Lafayette baseball coach Tony Robichaux is more probably certain about the weather report than the number of pitchers his team will use beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday when the Cajuns play Tulane at Turchin Stadium.

Robichaux said there’s about a 60 percent chance of rain when the Cajuns (13-2), ranked No. 6 by Baseball America, meet Tulane (9-5), but expected starter Cody Boutte will probably throw no more than three innings.

That short appearance for Boutte (1-0, 6.75 earned run average), will also allow Ryan Wilson (0-0, 2.70) to throw at least two, providing more time for injured starter Greg Milhorn to heal an injured chest muscle, Robichaux said.

Milhorn started the Feb. 25 midweek victory at LSU, but his injury rehabilitation is day-to-day, according to assistant sports information director Jeff Schneider.

Wilson, a senior who has pitched and played in the outfield, has thrown in five games and 6.2 innings this season, but has no starts.

Both of Boutte’s appearances have been as a starter. In his 9.1 innings, he has allowed 12 hits and seven earned runs.

“We want to be able to keep our options open depending upon how Milhorn rehabs,” Robichaux said.

Robichaux is experimenting somewhat with his leadoff hitters. Catcher Michael Strentz was in the leadoff spot in two of the three victories this past weekend over Texas Southern, something which gives the Cajuns a different dimension.

“We want to send a message to the starting pitcher that we’re big, we’re strong and we’re physical,” Robichaux said. “I know if I had to face a guy like that to start a game off…usually you see some type of slapper or a guy who’s going to work the count. When see a guy like (Strentz) staring down the strike zone, you have to ask yourself, ‘if this is their leadoff hitter, I mean what’s coming with four and five and six?’

“We want that type of mentality…but we need someone else who can come back up to the top and set that physical presence for us. (Strentz) looks like a 28- or 30-year-old man, so we went ahead and moved him up to leadoff to do that to (the Texas Southern) pitching staff.”

Robichaux said the Tulane game is important to the Cajuns, who are scheduled to host Tulane on April 1 in Lafayette.

“It’s always been a good rivalry,” Robichaux said. “(The two teams) stay in touch a lot. Our players know theirs, so we are going to have to be ready to go down there and play.”

Tulane is expected to start Cody Merrill (0-0, 3.24) and then use several other arms.