Mistakes cost Cajuns in SBC Tourney opener

MONROE – Louisiana surrendered six unearned runs, committed six errors, Tony Robichaux was ejected and the start to pool play for the Ragin’ Cajuns in the 2011 Sun Belt Conference Tournament wasn’t a desirable result as the squad dropped a 10-6 decision to South Alabama at Warhawk Field in Monroe.

The loss puts the Cajuns (31-25) in need of specific results the remainder of pool play if they are to reach the tournament’s championship game. UL would have to win its final two games and South Alabama (30-26) would have to lose their final two games – anything else would eliminate the team from the title game.

Louisiana returns to Warhawk Field for its second of three games in pool play on Friday for an 11 a.m., meeting with Arkansas State (25-31-1). Pool play for the Cajuns concludes Saturday against FIU (38-17-1) at 7 p.m.

The game was rather uneventful through 2 ½ innings of play with the teams having traded a single run.

In the bottom of the third inning Alex Fuselier pushed a bunt up the first base line and appeared to have avoided the tag from USA first baseman Brad Hook. No initial call was made and all four umpires met in the middle of the diamond for nearly two minutes before Fuselier was ruled out.

Robichaux came out of the dugout to question the call and the conversation later turned into an argument before he was ejected from the contest.

Greg Fontenot energized the Cajuns dugout as he took the first pitch from Garrett Harris and lifted it over the right field fall for his first home run of the season and UL took a 2-1 lead.

The emotional high of the homer seemed to be a bit much as the Cajuns lost their focus defensively in the fourth inning and it wound up costing them six runs (five unearned) and the ball game.

Louisiana committed three errors in the top of the fourth and the Jaguars plated their six runs off of five hits which eventually chased starting pitcher Taylor Hubbell from the game.

An error by Fontenot on a Nolan Earley grounder started the Cajuns undoing. On the next play Logan Kirkland singled through the left side and Earley scored the tying run when Jordan Bourque misplayed the relay throw from the outfield.

After Hook walked, the Cajuns third error of the inning was committed when Fontenot attempted to start a double play. Unfortunately, the throw sailed out the reach of Jordan Poirrier allowing Kirkland and Hook to score putting USA in the lead at 4-2.

A Hunt Griffith RBI single kept the Jaguars rallying going with still no outs recorded.

An out was recorded on a sacrifice bunt by Jeff DeBlieux which moved runners to second and third base. Jake Overstreet then singled up the middle – the final batter Hubbell would face – and two more runs were recorded upping the USA lead to 7-2.

The Jaguars plated single runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh inning to increase their lead to 10-3 and Harris kept the Cajuns off the scoreboard from the sixth through eighth inning by scattering four hits.

Despite all that had happened to put them in a hole, the Ragin’ Cajuns were still fighting in the ninth inning and had Harris and the Jaguars backed into a corner trying to hold onto their lead.

Back-to-back singles from Lance Marvel and Chris Sinclair ignited the Cajuns last push. Harris induced a fly out from Matt Goulas, but hit Chase Compton to load the bases with one out. Ryan Leonards laced a double down the left field line that scored Marvel and Sinclair to drop the deficit to 10-5.

Despite Harris having thrown well over 130 pitches, the Jaguars coaching staff elected to keep him in. The risky move paid off as after a mound visit he induced grounders from Daniel Nichols and Fontenot to end the game and prevent a Cajuns comeback.

Hubbell was charged with the loss for the Cajuns and it was a tough one as six of the seven runs he allowed in 3 1/3 innings were unearned. He fell to 5-7 in defeat.

Harris notched his second complete game of the season against the Cajuns. The senior righty threw a complete game at “The Tigue” on Good Friday. With the win he improved to 8-3.

Fontenot topped the UL lineup with three hits marking his 19th multiple-hit game. He increased his season hits total to 67 moving him within three of reaching 70 hits for the third straight season.

The six errors for the Cajuns were a season-high and only the 13th time in 56 games with multiple errors. UL fell to 4-9 when committing multiple errors.

Overstreet led USA with three RBI and Kirkland topped the team with three hits.

BASES NOTED: Thursday’s game marked only the third neutral site meeting between the two schools…Previous neutral site meetings came in 1991 at the NCAA Regional in Baton Rouge and 2006 Sun Belt Tournament in Bowling Green, Ky….Both teams were off on Wednesday, making Thursday’s game the 2011 Sun Belt Tournament opener for both…The Cajuns officially began their 18th appearance of the event in the 20th season as a member of the league…USA took a 7-6 lead in SBC Tournament meetings with the victory…UL dropped its tournament opener for the second straight season…Dating back to the 2009 event in Troy, the Cajuns have now lost five consecutive SBC Tournament contests…The six errors were the most since committing seven against Arkansas State on March 14, 2010…For just the fourth time in the past 88 games the Cajuns pitching staff surrendered double digit runs…Matt Goulas’ safety squeeze bunt in the second inning was the Cajuns’ 58th sacrifice hit of the season which established a new school record (previous was 57 in 2006 and 2008)…Mike Petello’s stolen base in the second inning was the Cajuns’ 76th of the season pushing them past FIU for the SBC lead in that category…For the eighth consecutive game the Cajuns starting pitcher held the opposition to three earned runs or less…Robichaux, ejected from a game for the first time since April 2009, will await a ruling from the Sun Belt Conference on when his automatic suspension will be served…Robichaux does have the option to appeal the suspension.

LINE SCORE

South Alabama 10, Louisiana 6 (May 26, 2011 at Monroe, La.)

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South Alabama....... 001 611 100 - 10 13 0 (30-26)

Louisiana........... 011 010 003 - 6 10 6 (31-25)

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Pitchers: South Alabama - Harris, Garrett. Louisiana - Hubbell, Taylor; Satriano, Joey (4); Wascom, Blake (6); Zimmermann, Joe (8); Cook, Michael (9)

Win-Harris, Garrett(8-3) Loss-Hubbell, Taylor(5-7) T-2:50

HR UL - Fontenot, Greg (1)

Weather: 76, NW @ 10 MPH, Partly Cloudy

Game notes:

2011 Sun Belt Tournament Pool B Contest

UL-USA first meeting in SBC Tournament since May 23, 2008 in Lafayette

Cajuns continue Pool B play Friday at 11 a.m. vs. Arkansas State

UL head coach Tony Robichaux ejected in fourth inning

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