The Grind: Georgia Southern
Can you feel the Ragin' Cajuns heating up? Kyle Clement came back from injury last week, and that's only part of the momentum they have right now.
Coach Robe's crew picked up two out of three in conference play in Jonesboro, and they added a win in the midweek. It's hard to nitpick three wins in four games. Coaches will take that math almost every time. Let's start with the Sun Belt series win over Arkansas State, then we'll get to Evan Guillory's ridiculous performance against Northwestern State.
It was almost a series sweep against Arkansas State. Game One was the only loss, and the Cajuns still came close to a comeback.
The Red Wolves were able to chase Gunner Leger off the mound, and they were out to a 7-0 lead after five inning. The Cajuns climbed all the way back to within one run, but they couldn't claw their way all the way back. Arkansas State took the 7-6 win to start the series, but it was all Cajuns from there. On an exciting side note, the middle of the lineup (Kyle Clement, Stefan Trosclair, Steven Sensley) combined for eight hits on Friday. Murderers' Row heating up?
Arkansas State found a way to get to Gunner, but Wyatt Marks was too hot too handle on Saturday.
Marks was in a predatory mood on the mound, and he tallied eight strikeout victims in seven innings of work, only allowing one earned run. When he handed the ball to Dylan Moore in the eighth inning, he knew the game was in safe hands. The Cajun Reaper came out of the bullpen and put the Red Wolves to rest for his 7th save of the season. Brad Antchak and Kennon Fontenot added in home runs in the 5-2 victory, which rolled right into Sunday.
Three men stepped up in a big way to clinch the rubber match. Nick Lee and Eric Carter combined for 13 K's and only three hits in a 6-1 masterpiece, and Kyle Clement (4 RBI, HR) provided the fireworks. Lee picked up his fifth win of the season with 5.2 strong innings, and Carter's first save of the season was an extended stay (3.2 IP). They still didn't top Evan Guillory on Tuesday.
Guillory collected his first win of the season earlier this year on the road against the Demons, and this time he had them at home. M.L. Tigue Moore Field treated him to some home cooking.
When you only need 93 pitches in a complete game shutout, that's called domination. Guillory only allowed one hit and retired 15 straight batters to finish the game. Robe said Evan didn't let him take him off the mound, and Robe was too smart to mess with that momentum. It was his first appearance at home in front of Cajun Nation, and he put on a show for the 4-0 victory.
Clearly, Guillory is your Grinder of the Week. It was the longest outing of any Cajun pitcher all year, and one-hit complete game shutouts don't just drop out of the sky.
A slight shoutout goes to Section A member Brett Benoit, who made a gofundme account to replace Associate Head Coach Anthony Babineaux's clipboard. A foul ball killed his beloved clipboard, and he wanted to make sure Bab got taken care of. Simply, hilarious. Well done yet again, Section A.
All fun aside, there are three more games to play this weekend, and they're on the road.
Georgia Southern welcomes the Cajuns into Statesboro, with their Sun Belt standing in the swing. The Eagles are 17-12 on the season and 6-6 in Sun Belt Conference play, and they have three very solid weekend starters. Brian Eichhorn is holding opponents to a .207 batting average, Evan Challenger's numbers are even better (.193), and Chase Cohen (.189) beats the bunch. Their pitching counteracts a .259 team batting average, but there's still a bat to avoid.
Don't leave a ball over the plate to Ryan Cleveland. He leads Georgia Southern in HR's (7) and RBI's (24), and he's the only player on the team with more than two deep shots. If you're going to make a mistake over the heart of the plate, make sure it's not to Cleveland.
With Clement back from injury, it feels like the Cajuns have a chance to start rolling downhill in the back half of the season. They picked up two more wins in conference play on the road last week, and a few more in the state of Georgia would keep the ball moving.