From the Bird’s Nest: So much for matchups
When looking at college baseball (or any baseball for that matter) the favorite is almost always determined by the pitching matchup. If the Phillies are throwing Roy Halladay and the Mets are throwing, well, anyone the Mets have, the Phillies would look to have the advantage for that particular game.
On Friday night, it looked as though Louisiana had the advantage against Florida Atlantic. But the game proved to be tight, with Greg Fontenot’s seventh inning double the game winner for the Cajuns in a 2-1 victory.
Yesterday, the pitching matchup appeared to favor FAU.
The Cajuns had to scratch Jordan Nicholson, who had a tender elbow, in favor of Joe Zimmerman, who was 0-2 with an ERA close to 5. FAU’s Paul Davis was the Sun Belt Conference pitcher of the week after throwing 8.2 shutout innings against Middle Tennessee last week. He also had a victory over FIU on the season. And, with the Cajuns already up 1-0 in the series, FAU would be playing with a sense of urgency.
Zimmerman struggled in the first inning. He had trouble gripping the ball and issued back-to-back walks with one out. After striking out cleanup hitter Alex Hudak, Zimmerman hit first baseman Dan Scheffler in the face with a pitch. It was the second time Scheffler had been hit in the head this season. He broke his nose and suffered a mild concussion in the earlier mishap and last night’s mishap sent him to the hospital with a laceration and another possible concussion. After that, Zimmerman got designated hitter Nick Spano to ground into a force play to end the inning.
FAU had a great chance to seize early momentum and failed. The Cajuns, in their half of the first, did not.
Alex Fuselier hammered a 3-2 pitch over the right field wall to send an early message and give the Cajuns a 1-0 lead after one batter. Greg Fontenot singled. After Jordan Porrier lined out to right-center, Davis, who had a 32-3 strikeout/walk ratio on the season, walked Mike Petello. With two outs, he walked Daniel Nichols. Tyler Frederick then made Davis pay with a two run single. 3-0 Cajuns after one.
An error and a walk gave FAU to baserunners with none out in the second inning. A sacrifice moved them to scoring position. But Zimmerman got leadoff hitter Raymond Church to foul out and MIke Albaladejo to ground out. Another opportunity squandered.
Louisiana made it 5-0 in the third on RBI singles by Lance Marvel and Nichols. That ended Davis’ night after 66 pitches. Three innings, seven hits, five runs, two walks and no strikeouts.
Zimmerman gave up a run in the fourth on a sacrifice fly, but gave FAU nothing else through 5.1 innings of work. Louisiana head coach Tony Robichaux then called on freshman Caleb Kellogg, who allowed a run on four hits the rest of the way. Robichaux really likes the DeQuincy freshman, who has a live fastball and a good breaking ball. What Robichaux likes most of all, though, is that Kellogg “doesn’t pitch scared.” Kellogg had thrown only three innings all season coming into this week. He pitched the final two innings against Northwestern State on Tuesday to earn his first collegiate save. He picked up save number two for the week with his 3.2 innings last night.
After Davis departed, Jake Meiers gave up five hits in two innings before Coach John McCormack turned to Ahmed Garcia in the sixth. Garcia entertained the crowd with his delivery, which featured a high leg kick followed by a hesitation of undetermined length before he actually delivered the pitch. Garcia is an interesting story. His father has been a political prisoner in Cuba. The younger Garcia, who played his high school ball in Miami, will become a naturalized U. S. Citizen in a couple of weeks.
The Cajuns 6-2 win was their seventh win in eight games. It was also the seventh time in eight games that Louisiana posted double-digit hits. The Cajuns also assured themselves of a series win, the first over a Sun Belt rival from the state of Florida since 2007. And, it was the first road series loss for McCormack’s squad in two years, a mark of solid consistency.
Over the first two games, the Cajuns have outscored the second-leading hitting team in the Belt 8-3. They’ve out-hit the Owls 22-12. FAU is hitting .190 for the series.
Today the Cajuns go for the sweep. Gametime is 11:35, with the broadcast on ESPN1420 and 96.5 KPEL beginning at 11;05.
The pitching matchup is T. J. Geith vs. R. J. Alvarez.
For what that’s worth.