The Grind-Ragin’ Cajuns vs UT-Arlington [VIDEO]
(VIDEO CORRECTION: The series will be played in Arlington, not here in Lafayette)
Time to hit the road to UT-Arlington, Cajun Nation. Bring your cheering voices, and we'll hope the Ragin' Cajuns bring their bats.
I'll tell you why you shouldn't sleep on the Mavs in a moment, but first, we need a second to get some perspective.
Last week, the game of baseball tripped up the Cajuns. Two wins and three losses, which isn't ideal. There were some fine pitching performances over the weekend though, so don't get too down with the results.
Gunner Leger proved again why he's the Friday starter, holding Texas State to only one run in almost seven innings of work with 9 K's. Steven Sensley blasted a home run, Dylon Poncho knocked in three RBI to back Gunner up, and all he had to do was hand the ball to Eric Carter and Dylan Moore on the back end for a 5-1 victory. Gunner, Carter and D-Mo aren't even fair when they throw like that.
Game 2 against Texas State had to feel frustrating for the pitchers. Wyatt Marks (6.1 IP, 2 ER) and Jevin Huval (2.2 IP, 0 R) held the Bobcats to only two runs all game, but the Cajun hitters only provided one run on four hits. Marks and Huval did their job, they just didn't receive the run support they needed for the "W."
The rubber match was a thing of beauty on the mound. Are we all sure Nick Lee is a freshman?
Lee only had a single run to work with, but that's all he needed. Eight strikeouts in six innings earned him LSWA Pitcher of the Week honors, and he held Texas State to only two hits. The final three innings belonged to Carter and Moore, who didn't let the Bobcats sniff a comeback. The 1-0 victory gave them the series win, but they had to earn it the hard way.
Speaking of earning things the hard way, the midweek tested the Cajuns. Unfortunately, they didn't pass the test.
Both losses in the midweek happened in similar fashion. The Cajuns led the Southern Miss game 2-1, but then they allowed a five runs in three at bats in the fifth inning. It happened to Evan Guillory in the blink of an eye, and the offense couldn't charge back in the 2-7 loss in Hattiesburg.
The following day, the game was tied 1-1 heading into the 7th inning. Hogan Harris and Jevin Huval gave the ball to Eric Carter, and then the unthinkable happened. Carter, who helped the Cajuns win both their games against Texas State, imploded on the mound. All four runs in the inning were charged to his name, and his error was one of two that really started the collapse. Alex Pinero's 2-run HR tightened the game for a moment, but Tech answered back with a HR of their own for the 6-3 win.
After the loss to Tech, Head Coach Tony Robichaux said his hitters had to "man up" at the plate. Think those words will have an affect on this weekend?
Before we head into the weekend, I have to award Grinder of the Week. Nick Lee struck out eight in six innings, and he did it all with almost no run support. This week's choice was a no-brainer.
UT-Arlington comes into the series with an underwhelming record: 22-20 (8-10 Sun Belt). On paper, the Mavs don't look that tough, but they have wins over Oklahoma State, TCU, Louisiana Tech and Baylor (twice). When they're "on," nobody is safe.
There's no real eye-popping power on the roster (team leader has 3 HR's), but they have 74 doubles and 15 triples. Watch your gaps. Also, they're hitting .293 as a team, so expect these solid contact hitters to make the Cajuns work on the mound and in the field.
Joel Kuhnel leads the pitching staff as the Saturday starter. He's a big ole boy (6'5"-265 lbs) out there on the mound, and his 1.88 ERA is tops on the staff. Wyatt Marks should be in for a battle in Game 2, so bring your popcorn (and hopefully, some run support). Kuhnel's stats pop off the page, but the Mavs throw a lot of different arms out of their bullpen. You could see some chess played this weekend between Coach Robe and Mavs Head Coach Darin Thomas.
You never expect a series sweep as a coach, so it's pretty unfair to ask for one as a fan. That being said, with the two losses in the midweek, the Cajuns need every win they can get to help out their RPI. Time to bounce back, boys. Bust out the brooms.