Robichaux tosses four-hitter in Cajuns' victory
LAFAYETTE – Austin Robichaux pitched a complete game four-hitter and Caleb Adams delivered a game-changing home run to lead the Ragin’ Cajuns baseball team to a 9-2 victory over No. 24 South Alabama in a winner’s bracket game in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament here at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field Friday afternoon.
The Jaguars scored a run just two at bats into the contest, then Robichaux took control holding South Alabama scoreless for 8 1/ 3 innings consecutive innings.
Adams, the first batter to face reliever Jaime Dennis in a 2-1 contest, drove a three-run home run deep over the left field wall in the third inning to extend Louisiana’s lead to 5-1 which was plenty of breathing room for Robichaux.
Louisiana (40-17) sent eight batters to the plate and registered four runs in the eighth inning to put the Jaguars (41-17) away and take the driver’s seat in their portion of the SBC Tournament bracket.
Robichaux earned his third complete game victory of the season and improved his record to 8-2. The former Notre Dame standout induced 15 ground ball outs and had two separate streaks of six-plus consecutive batters retired.
“He (Austin Robichaux) got lead-off guys out all throughout the ballgame, stayed very minimal with three ball counts and just threw some quality change-ups in fastball count,” said Ragin’ Cajuns’ coach Tony Robichaux. “That’s just a phenomenal job - not just the way he pitched, but him saving the bullpen in this heat.
“I told him earlier, ‘You’ve got a full bullpen; we can left-right this thing. With this heat, don’t try to save anything. Just empty the tank,’” Robichaux added. “And you can tell he’s my kid. He didn’t listen.”
Adams increased his team-leading home run total to 14 and drove his RBI count to 50. Dex Kjerstad collected his 28th multiple-hit game and Jace Conrad continued his hot play recording a multi-hit game for a third straight outing.
South Alabama’s Matt Bell was handed his first loss of the season in his 13th start. Bell was charged for four runs in 2 1/3 innings.
Louisiana extended its win streak to six games, tying a season-high, and moved within one win of tying the largest turnaround in the Tony Robichaux era.
Jeff DeBlieux tripled to center field in the game’s first at bat and Bud Collura brought him home on a sacrifice fly giving USA the early 1-0 lead.
Kjerstad drew the Cajuns even with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the first, then later in the inning Seth Harrison scored on a double steal attempt to provide Robichaux a lead he would not relinquish.
Bell surrendered two free passes in the third inning, hitting Kjerstad and issuing a walk to Girouard, and it proved costly. Even more costly would be the offering from Dennis that Adams deposited over the left field wall for a three-run home run that staked the Cajuns to a 5-1 edge.
Robichaux and Dennis traded scoreless frames for the next four innings.
Louisiana’s four-spot in the eighth inning featured a RBI double from Kjerstad, two-run single by Conrad and a run that scored on a Jaguars throwing error.
USA picked up an unearned run in the ninth inning, closing out the scoring on a two-out RBI single by Dustin Dalken.
BASES NOTED: The win was the Cajuns 40th of the season marking the first 40-win campaign since 2007…Austin Robichaux held the opposition to four hits or fewer for the seventh time in 15 starts…Jace Conrad increased his RBI total to 29 joining Ryan Leonards as Cajuns who need just one RBI to give the team all nine starters with 30-plus RBI…The Cajuns currently have a 17-win improvement from last season (went 23-30) and the next win will tie the largest turnaround in the Robichaux era…The largest turnaround in the Robichaux era was 18 from 1996-97 (increased from 25 to 43 wins)…Louisiana is 15-5 in its last 20 games as the postseason stretch run heats up.