Ragin' Cajuns Stun Tech 4-3

Tech baseball coach <b>Larry Hays</b> has always had good offensive teams, but his squads are usually built around pitching and defense. The 2002 squad is no different. <p> <br>

Despite allowing just two earned runs to the Louisiana-Lafayette, the Raiders saw a 2-0 lead disappear into a 4-3 defeat in their second game of the Astros College Classic at Enron Field.

The loss drops Tech to 6-2 on the season with its final game of the tournament scheduled for 12:30 p.m. tomorrow against longtime Southwest Conference rival Rice, which has won six straight over the Raiders since 1996.

Friday's nemesis was defense, a staple of last year's team which fielded a Big 12 Conference-best .971. Two of the Cajuns' four runs were unearned thanks to miscues in the field, including two which allowed ULL (1-0) to erase Tech's early lead.

The Raiders took a 2-0 lead in the top of the third on Jon Slack's two-run double off the left-field wall, scoring Tyler Carson and Joel Buchenauer who both reached on consecutive singles.

But Slack's inability to deal with the sun, which peaked over the edge of Enron Field in the early-morning game, allowed the Cajuns' to tie the game at 2-all.

Bryan Sneed opened the fifth inning with a double that fell just out of Slack's reach after losing it in the sun. Two groundouts later, Louisiana-Lafayette had cut the lead to 2-1.

The Cajuns tied the game in the very next inning on almost the exact same play as Mike Kabel's pop-up was again lost by Slack for a leadoff double. Kabel scored when Keith Preau's grounder eluded first baseman Nick Blankenship and was booted by Buchenauer backing up the play from second base.

Those were the only two blemishes on an otherwise standout performance by Tech starting pitcher Steve Gooch.

Gooch, a junior right-hander, went 6 1/3 innings and allowed just the two runs on five hits with no walks and five strikeouts. He retired the first 10 batters he faced and 11 of the first 12.

Tech's bullpen, which entered the tournament with a 3.24 ERA, couldn't hold the lead. Gooch ran into trouble in the seventh but Steve Rowe got the final two outs to end the rally and the first two outs of the eighth before giving way to left-hander Brandon Shaw (1-1). Hays tried to force the Cajuns' hand with Shaw against the left-handed hitting Justin Bourque, but Cajuns' coach Tony Robichaux stayed with Bourque, who delivered a bunt single. Hays left Shaw in, but he gave up a single to Sneed and an RBI double to Robert Shelton, giving ULL the lead at 3-2.

Senior right-hander Chad Ertel got Lloyd Ellis to strikeout to end the threat, but not before catcher Willie Durazo allowed a passed ball, scoring Sneed from third for a 4-2 Cajun advantage.

That proved crucial, because in the top of the ninth, Tech shortstop Gera Alvarez unloaded his second home run of the season to left, slicing the lead to 4-3. But Tyler Carson struck out on three pitches to end the game.

Andy Gros picked up the win in relief for Louisiana-Lafayette. He allowed just one Tech run on two hits in 2 2/3 innings, walking none and striking out three. Cajuns' starter Tim Ramon went 6 1/3 innings and allowed two runs on seven hits with two walks and four strikeouts.

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