From the Bird’s Nest: Well, at least it was quick
I'll always remember a conversation I had with former Ragin' Cajuns baseball coach Mike Boulanger. We were talking after a tough loss on the road to Lamar in a Sun Belt game. If I remember right, the Cajuns lost 2-1.
"In this game," Boulanger said, "sometimes you lose, and sometimes you get beat. I hate to lose. I can live with getting beat."
What he meant by that statement was sometimes you lose and lament things you did poorly that could have made you a winner. But when you get beat, the other team was just better. Sometimes that happens.
Last night, the Cajuns just got beat.
Freshman Justin Hageman pitched a complete game, struck out ten and didn't walk a batter in the Toppers' 5-1 win. He threw 114 pitches. His fastball was consistently in the 89-92 mph range and he complimented that fastball with a good hard slider that kept the Cajuns off balance all night.
The Cajuns had exactly one chance on the night. It came in the third inning. Alex Fuselier doubled with one out. Greg Fontenot singled moving Fuselier to third and Jordan Porrier's single drove in the Cajuns' run with Fontenot moving to second. But Mike Petello then flied to right and Lance Marvel looked at a third strike.
The Toppers got three straight hits to open the bottom of the inning, and scored on a sacrifice fly and a groundout. Then a flare to center with two outs got the third run home.
And that was all. Well, not all. Matt Rice homered in the fifth, and Kes Carter did the same in the eighth.
Taylor Hubbell didn't pitch badly against a very good hitting ball club. He didn't walk a batter and struck out six, allowing eight hits. In fact, after the three run third, Hubbell faced two batters over the minimum, the two home runs.
It was simply a night where Hagemann got it done. UL Coach Tony Robichaux remarked in the post game, "I don't know how the draft didn't get him."
The fact that Hageman started was somewhat of a surprise. Tanner Perkins has been WKU's Friday night guy all season. But WKU coach Chris Finwood has been using Hageman as a first baseman/DH lately. He didn't want Hageman to play on Friday and pitch on Saturday and risk injury. So Hageman has been moved to Friday and judging his performance, will undoubtedly stay there. In the first six innings of his four conference starts, Hageman has allowed 0, 0, 2 and 1 run.
With both pitchers throwing strikes and not allowing much outside of the third inning, the game was played in just one hour and 46 minutes. That's the second shortest nine-inning game I can remember broadcasting. (As a freshman, Cody Robbins beat UNO on just 77 pitches in one hour, 38 minutes.)
Finwood's move to throw Hageman last night means the Cajuns will face Perkins, WKU's best arm, today. The move is going to make it very difficult for the Cajuns to win the series. Joe Zimmerman will have to be as stingy as Perkins. The good news is the Cajuns bullpen (which is where they have a big advantage this weekend) is fully stocked and Robe will be able to make a move early if he has to.
Gametime is scheduled for 3. Pregame at 2:30 on 96.5 KPEL.