College Baseball: UL Lafayette is too fast for Texas State in 11-4 loss
By JOE VOZZELLI
Daily Record Sports
There’s a word Texas State head coach Ty Harrington used to describe UL Lafayette’s offense — creative.
Maybe another word that could be used is relentless.
Regardless of which verbage you choose, the Bobcats experienced first-hand what the Ragin’ Cajuns can do when they are rolling in Thursday afternoon’s 11-4 loss during the second round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.
Texas State chased Carson Baranik, the SBC’s Pitcher of the Year, in the third inning as it pilled up 11 hits and scored four early runs — all of the ingredients for an upset victory — but when UL Lafayette plays true to form, it’s hard to beat the No. 2 team in the country.
Even with that said, Bobcat starting pitcher Lucas Humpal grounded the Ragin’ Cajuns by holding them to one hit and two walks in 5 1/3 innings during a game earlier this season at UL Lafayette.
That wouldn’t be the case Thursday afternoon as the Ragin’ Cajuns played a near-flawless game on offense. The tournament’s No. 1 seed kept after Humpal and company with a season-high eight stolen bases, 16 hits and 11 runs.
“That’s a big part of their offense,” Harrington said of UL Lafayette’s stolen-base prowess. “We controlled them in Lafayette and knew it was going to be important today. We couldn’t contain them.”
The Ragin’ Cajuns left little doubt about their game plan versus Humpal — run, run and run some more. UL Lafayette swiped four bases in the first inning to erase a 1-0 deficit and take a 3-1 lead.
The Bobcats battled back in third inning on Garrett Mattlage’s three-run homer as the No. 4 seed grabbed a 4-3 lead.
Then the Ragin’ Cajuns got back after it in the bottom of the third with two more stolen bases and a pair of runs.
A microcosm of what UL Lafayette can do to opponents happened when Humpal — in trying to keep Jace Conrad from stealing second — instead fired a pick-off attempt out of the reach of first baseman Austin O’Neal. The errant throw allowed Conrad, who had two steals in Thursday’s tilt, to reach third.
“People, who don’t know us, look at our numbers and think we just hit for power,” Ragin’ Cajun head coach Tony Robichaux said. “That’s the biggest mistake you could make. We’ve got a lot of bunt singles. We can run the bases and we can steal. We can do a lot of different things.”
As far as why UL Lafayette was aggressive on the base paths against Humpal, Caleb Adams said they knew the sophomore right-hander threw a lot of breaking balls, something Humpal did to great effect back on April 27 in Lafayette.
“A lot of our base running is going to come from the time of the pitcher to home plate,” Robichaux said. “Today, we felt that we could run, so we did.”
Texas State hopes to have another chance to face the Ragin’ Cajuns, because that would mean Harrington’s team is still alive in the SBC Tournament. A win in Friday’s elimination game over UL Monroe would give the Bobcats another shot at UL Lafayette in what would be a semifinal tilt.