Key to streak for Cajun Cantrelle is in his back pocket
When someone asked Hayden Cantrelle what the longest hitting streak of his career is, the UL shortstop’s first words were “Oh, no.”
He wasn’t done.
“I have no idea,” Cantrelle said, “and I don’t like thinking about it.”
His current streak was extended to 12 games in a row Saturday, when the Ragin’ Cajuns sophomore from Teurlings Catholic High went 3 for 4 with an intentional walk, three RBI and one run scored in UL’s 7-4 victory over Appalachian State on M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park.
If you don’t think Cantrelle is superstitious, like most any baseball player worth his salt is, consider what he did a few moments after the first question, when this time he was asked about the key to keeping his streak going.
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First, he mentioned sticking with “the process.”
“Before the games, too, I’ve been picking up trash and putting it in my pocket,” he said, “so that’s been a little superstition that’s been carrying me along.”
With that, Cantrelle reached into the back left pocket of his uniform pants and pulled out a bubble game wrapper, an old ticket and an empty trail mix bag among other sundry items.
So what if he comes across a hubcap next?
“It’s gonna have to go in the pocket,” Cantrelle said with a laugh. “Gonna have to find a way to get it in there.”
Cantrelle’s streak, incidentally, is a long way off the UL record of 23 straight games, set by Chris Webb in 1996 and tied in 2015 by ex-Cajuns shortstop Blake Trahan, who played his first 11 Major League Baseball games for Cincinnati last season and was optioned by the Reds to the AAA Louisville Bats on Friday.
During his 12-game streak, Cantrelle is 23 for 48 (.479) — raising his season average from .125 to a team-high .318 — with three doubles, six homers and 11 RBI. He also hit for the cycle in a win over Northwestern State last Tuesday night.
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It’s a run that has helped 11-13 UL go 6-6 during that span, including Saturday’s important win on the heels of a 6-5 series-opening loss to the Mountaineers.
“The great teams never lose two games in a row,” Cantrelle said, “so after a tough loss (Friday) night it was important for us to bounce back.”
Alex Leshock scored after a leadoff triple and App State led 1-0 early.
UL went down in order in the bottom of the first, and starter Austin Perrin escaped a two-on, no-outs jam in the top of the second.
App State stranded a pair again in the fourth.
Cantrelle ripped a single up the middle in the fifth, scoring Kole McKinnon and tying it at 1-1. But UL stranded two in the inning.
Phillip Cole doubled off the wall in left in the sixth, scoring a run and putting App State up 2-1.
Handsome Monica fouled out in the sixth, but Hunter Kasuls scored on the sac fly.
More:Kasuls, Breaux carrying steadiest bats for the Cajuns
Four straight walks in the sixth, the last taken by O’Neal Lochridge, helped UL to go up 3-2. Cantrelle followed with a bases-loaded, two-RBI single that made it 5-2. A balk after that gave the Cajuns a 6-2 lead, and Brennan Breaux followed with an RBI-single.
“They gave us a lot for free,” UL coach Tony Robichaux said, “and that did ’em in.”
After Luke Drumheller’s RBI-double, Perrin (2-2) exited with 97 pitches throws in 6.1 innings of work.
App State got one across on a bases-loaded fielder’s choice in the ninth, but Alex Hannie made a nice catch in left to end it and Logan Savoy got his first save of the season.
Kasuls was hit in the back of the shoulder by a pitch and had to leave the game. He was replaced at second base by Connor Dupuy. Robichaux said Kasuls could have a bone bruise; his status for Sunday is uncertain.
Freshman Colton Frank got his first start as a Cajun, opening in left field with Daniel Lahare (ankle sprain) out for the fourth time in five games.
UL and Appalachian State close out their three-game series at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. The game was moved up from its original start time due to Mountaineer travel plans.
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RAGIN CAJUNS BASEBALL
UL (11-13, 3-2 in the Sun Belt) vs. APPALACHIAN STATE (9-12, 2-3)
WHEN: 10:30 a.m. Sunday
WHERE: M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park
RADIO: KPEL 96.5 FM with Jay Walker (play-by-play) and Brad Topham (color)
ONLINE: RaginCajuns.com with Dan McDonald
UL PITCHER: LHP Daniel Horton (1-1, 3.52)