Cantrelle becomes fourth Ragin' Cajun to hit for the cycle
He was slumping to start the season.
Not now, though.
Hayden Cantrelle carried his hot bat from Little Rock back to Lafayette, and used it to hit for the cycle in UL’s 8-3 win Tuesday night over Northwestern State on M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park.
Cantrelle becomes just the fourth Ragin’ Cajun to hit for the cycle, joining Stefan Trosclair on May 1, 2016, against Texas-Arlington, Kyle Clement in 2015 against Jackson State and Tommy Bates against TCU in 1990.
Related:UL shortstop Cantrelle assumes new second-year role
Cantrelle — soaked with an ice-bucket bath after the win — finished his with double in the eighth inning, when UL was up 6-3.
He also walked to lead off the first inning, tripled in the third, singled in the fifth and hit a solo home run to right-center in the sixth.
“It was euphoric,” the sophomore shortstop from Teurlings Catholic High said of the feeling of finishing it. “I think at the time it was a three-run ball game, and we were trying to push that extra run across.”
As recently as March 6, Cantrelle was hitting just .125.
But after going 11 for 21 last weekend, including 7 for 12 in a three-game Sun Belt Conference weekend series at Little Rock, then 4 for 4 with four runs scored and RBI Tuesday, he’s now at .307.
“That’s how this game is,” UL coach Tony Robichaux said. “You get one knock, and, boy, it will turn you around.
“I’ve seen this in my many a time, where a guy gets a base hit, man, and it’s on after that. … They feel better, the start to relax, the see the ball better, and then they get in a rhythm.”
More:Cantrelle’s historic day powers UL in comeback at Little Rock
The Little Rock series included a Saturday win in which Cantrelle went 4-for-5 with five runs, five RBI and three homers.
Teammate Hunter Kasuls, who had three RBI Tuesday, isn’t sure what got Cantrelle going.
“I don’t know,” he said.
“He got hot, and he’s gonna stay hot, and that cycle, that’s a heck of an accomplishment.”
Cantrelle thinks he may know, though.
“I think it was all about making sure I was persistent,” he said of coming out of his slump.
“My plan that I set from the beginning eventually was gonna work, and I just had to keep on plugging.
“It can be discouraging at times, but that’s part of it,” Cantrelle added. “And enduring through that is why I’m having the success I’m having now.”
More:Solid Sunday effort gives Ragin' Cajuns the series win over Little Rock on the road
Patience was key too.
“I was trying to do too much earlier in the year,” he said, “and whenever I honed it down and (was) seeing the ball in the zone I was getting better pitches to hit.”
Hayden Brown’s single off of UL starter Blake Schultz scored Jeffrey Elkins, who had reached on a two-out walk, in the top of the first.
Larson Fontenot’s double scored Jakob Nunez, who had doubled himself, to make it 2-0 in the second.
UL tied it in the bottom of the inning, when Kasuls scored on Kole McKinnon’s sacrifice fly and Todd Lott came across on Alex Hannie’s triple.
The Demons went back up in the third, when UL centerfielder Brennan Breaux lost a ball off the wall in the lights, allowing J.P Legreco to score on what was ruled a triple and a error.
Breaux singled in Cantrelle to tie it again in the bottom of the third.
Kasuls ripped a two-RBI triple down the right-field line, scoring Cantrelle and Handsome Monica and making it 5-3 in the fifth.
More:With UL's Monica back, Cajuns have plan behind plate
Freshman Connor Cooke (2-0) was strong in relief for the Cajuns, entering in the third and putting the Demons down in order in the fifth and sixth, including an eight-inning pitch in the sixth.
Jack Burk finished with 3.0 scoreless, one-hit inning to get the save.
After Cantrelle’s double for the cycle, Monica’s sac fly scored Jonathan Windham and Kasuls’ double scored Cantrelle to make it 8-3.
LEGER TO SKIP START
Robichaux said Tuesday that usual Friday-night starter Gunner Leger (arm inflammation) will skip another start and Jacob Shultz will take his spot in the rotation this weekend vs. Appalachian State. Coming off Tommy John surgery, Leger skipped one other start this season. … Robichaux also said senior outfielder Gavin Bourgeois has scheduled surgery to repair his torn labrum and will redshirt. … First baseman/out Daniel Lahare has been diagnosed with a sprained until and probably will be held out until the weekend, Robichaux said.
More:UL's Robichaux reveals real reason Leger missed start
Northwestern State’s starter was Cullen McDonald, the son of ex-Cajuns pitcher Kevin McDonald. He went 2.2 innings, giving up three runs and four hits. … UL opened with an All-St. Thomas More High outfield, with Hannie in left, Breaux in center and Orynn Veillon in right. … Announced attendance: 4,718.
UL visits Tulane on Wednesday night in a non-conference midweek game.
RAGIN’ CAJUNS BASEBALL
UL (10-11) at TULANE (13-7)
WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday
WHERE: Turchin Stadium, New Orleans
RADIO: KPEL 1420 AM with Jay Walker (play-by-play) and Brad Topham (color)