The Grind – Cajuns vs LSU In Wally Pontiff Classic [VIDEO]
It's a special midweek edition of "The Grind," and we're heading out to Zephyr Field for the Wally Pontiff Classic.
Anytime the Ragin' Cajuns get together with LSU, there's a chance for drama. The Tigers come in at 14-5 overall and 1-2 in SEC play after dropping their conference opening series to Alabama. It will be Evan Guillory on the mound against freshman right hander Cole McKay (3.1 IP, 5.40 ERA), but let's take a look back before we dig into one of the most anticipated games on the schedule (Tuesday, 7:00 pm first pitch).
Tony Robichaux's group went 2-2 last week, with results on both sides of the spectrum. Things started off sweetly and soured as the week progressed.
Against Northwestern State in the midweek, the Cajuns clubbed 14 hits in a 10-1 victory. Guillory picked up his first win of the season, finally receiving some solid run support. Brian Mills was the star, reaching base three times and collecting four RBI's and two runs.The Cajuns got multi-hit performances from five different players (Mills, Kasuls, Conrad, Sensley, Edwards), and they carried their hot bats into the first game of the Little Rock series.
Gunner Leger set the tone on the mound with seven strikeouts in six innings, while Hogan Harris, Chris Charpentier and Reagan Bazar combined for three innings with zero hits allowed. The bats provided 14 hits yet again, including a grand slam from Joe Robbins (who will get his due in a little bit). Brenn Conrad (2-4, 2B, HR, 3 RBI) and Brian Mills (2-5, HR, 3 R, 2 RBI) joined the Monster Mash party as well, and it looked like the Cajuns were going to run the Trojans out of town...but that's why you play all three games.
The next two games took a turn south, with the pitchers catching the brunt of the blows.
Wyatt Marks was chased from the second game of Saturday's double-header in the second inning, and the bullpen couldn't put out the fire in a 5-10 loss. On Sunday, Nick Lee was backed into a corner with not much run support, and the Little Rock pitching staff collected the 7-1 win by holding the Cajun hitters to only five hits. It was a friendly reminder that anything can happen in conference play, and it might serve as a bit of a wakeup call.
If everyone was playing like your Grinder of the Week, Joe Robbins, the Cajuns would be undefeated.
With Kyle Clement out and Stefan Trosclair hitting under .200, Robbins is stepping up for Coach Robe. On Saturday, Robbins smacked two home runs and collected 7 RBI's. He certainly did his part, so he gets to take home Grinder of the Week honors again.
Now let's shift our focus to the folks down the road. You know, the ones in purple and gold.
There's a lot of respect between Tony Robichaux and LSU Head Coach Paul Mainieri. Every time their teams get together, you can expect some high level decisions to be made from the dugout. This time around, Mainieri is going to give some youngsters a little time in the frying pan.
His starter, McKay, only has three innings of collegiate baseball under his belt, but he has all the potential to be a solid arm moving forward. His fastball gets into the 90's, so if he can control his pitches and emotions, the Cajuns could be in for a tough task at the plate. For Guillory on the mound, he better prepare for battle.
The Tigers hit .305 as a team, and they have a lot of options to match up with righties and lefties alike. We could be looking at a chess match, and Mainieri holds the advantage with offensive depth.
Keep this in mind though, Cajun Nation: LSU has losses to Sacramento State and Lamar this year, so they're beatable. It just comes down to the Cajuns handling the environment at Zephyr Field and the pressure of a regional-like atmosphere.
Last week, the Cajuns took two steps forward and two steps back. This week, let's hope they get back on the right foot again. It's the Cajuns vs LSU, just sit back and enjoy.