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From the Bird’s Nest: Patience, grasshopper

If you want to nit-pick, you can look at the fact that Louisiana had just four hits and struck out fourteen times last night.

But sometimes, it’s much better to look at the big picture.

Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns met FIU last night in the first game of a three game Sun Belt series.  When you play on the road, Friday night is crucial.  The pitching matchup of Phil Haig and Taylor Hubbell, a couple of lefties, was a good one.  And, on paper, it looked like the team that got the crucial hit was going to come out on top.

It was an especially important start for Hubbell, who carried a road ERA of over seven into the game.  Hubbell pitched pretty well last Friday at Western Kentucky, but still gave up five runs in eight innings.  And, the Cajuns fell behind immediately last night when FIU got a walk and a chopper that Jordan Bourque couldn’t handle on the short hop that was ruled a single.  A ground ball got the run home and Hubbell got out with just one run.

But FIU got a leadoff homer from Jabari Henry in the second and a prodigious homer to dead center by Pablo Bermudez in the third.  And, after Jeremy Patton drew a walk, Louisiana coach Tony Robichaux got Joey Satriano up in the bullpen.  But Hubbell induced Garrett Wittles to hit into a double play and got out of the inning. 

Meanwhile, the Cajuns got nothing off of Haig.  Through the first three innings, the only hit was a two out double by Mike Petello in the first inning.  Even in the fourth, Haig got the first two men out.

But home plate umpire Mark Humphries had a pretty tight strike zone.  And, with two out, Haig walked Lance Marvel.  Then he walked Daniel Nichols.  Now the Cajuns were waiting on Haig to throw strikes.  Tyler Frederick walked to load the bases.  Freshman Michael Strentz showed a little freshman-itis by swinging at Haig’s first pitch.  But then Haig hit him to force in a run.  Jordan Bourque’s sinking liner was caught by Bermudez for the third out of the inning and the Cajuns had to settle for one run.  But they succeeded in forcing Haig to throw 39 pitches in the inning.  And, that was the beginning of the end for the lefty.

In the fifth, Greg Fontenot drew a one-out walk.  Mike Petello also walked.  Now approaching 100 pitches, Haig faced left-handed hitting Jordan Porrier and the Cajuns’ second baseman took Haig over the wall to the opposite field to give the Cajuns the lead for good.

A three run homer is better than a solo homer.  Or two.

That was the end of the night for Haig.  The Cajuns added two unearned runs in the seventh on a run-scoring doubles by Petello and Marvel.  Satriano came on in the bottom of the seventh and walked the leadoff man.  He struck out catcher Jose Behar, but Yoandy Barroso singled to put runners at first and third.  T. J. Shantz struck out and Barroso stole second with Pablo Bermudez up.  Bermudez, who had homered earlier, is second in the Sun Belt Conference in hitting.  But Satriano threw an absolutely filthy slider that was six inches off the plate by the time Bermudez swung.  The Cajuns got an insurance run in the ninth without benefit of a hit.  Satriano did the rest.

Four hits.  Fourteen strikeouts.  But all four hits went for extra bases and the Cajuns left with a big Friday night win. 

Hubbell and Satriano never allowed more than one hit in an inning.  FIU only got five hits themselves in the game.  The Cajuns won by limiting the number of free baserunners.  Hubbell walked two, Satriano one.  And, the Cajuns turned three more double plays, giving them nine in the last three games.

Patience sometimes really IS a virtue.  The Cajuns proved it last night.

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