3 injured in falling rocks at Kennon Road

3 injured in falling rocks at Kennon Road3 injured in falling rocks at Kennon Road

Three members of a family were wounded after a large chunk of stone

collided with their vehicle during the Kennon Road in this town on Sunday.

According to the Department of Public Works and Highways-Cordillera,

the height of the rock was at 10 feet high.

The victims were injured. They immediately ran to Baguio General Hospital.

The rocks and grounds of Kennon Road have not been removed yet, at 12 noon.

The road closed due to rockfall on Friday and was reopened on Saturday.

Motorists are advised to go through Naguilian or Marcos Highway.

So after failing to advance to postseason play for a second straight

year, UL coach Tony Robichaux has no choice but to ponder possibilities for next year.

Win over Little Rock

And as he did just that after UL bowed out the recent Sun Belt Conference

Tournament with a 19-16 win over Little Rock followed by a 10-1 loss to

Troy and an 11-1 run-rule loss to Texas State, Robichaux seemed genuinely

excited about what the future holds.

The impetus for that is rooted in the anticipated return of senior starting

pitcher Gunner Leger, who — barring what would be a surprise decision to

turn pro — is expected to be back after missing all of 2018 due to off season

elbow and leg surgeries.

Leger should be fully ready for fall ball later this year, according to the Cajuns.

But Robichaux’s reasoning for high hopes doesn’t stop there.

Senior catcher Handsome Monica will be back after missing all but the

first game of 2018 due to a knee injury followed by subsequent elbow

surgery, and the Cajuns have signed a highly regarded catcher — Sebastian

Toro, from Puerto Rico and Seminole State Community College — who could

contribute, too.

Mean plenty of depth

That should mean plenty of depth at a position where juco-transfer

Kole McKinnon was a gritty mainstay after being forced to work every

inning after Monica went down.

“What’s good,” Robichaux said, “is you’re going to pick up Gunner

(Leger) on Friday night, you’re gonna pick up a catcher (Monica) that’s

gonna come back with a kid we signed that’s very good.

“The wear and tear that Kole (McKinnon) went through and the development

for him is enormous,” Robichaux added. “So we’ll going to have three rock-solid

catchers back there.”

Depending on how the Major League Baseball Draft that gets underway

Monday goes, the Cajuns could also lose starting pitcher Hogan Harris — who

could be selected in the first five rounds — and, if he goes high enough, fellow

junior pitcher Nick Lee.

UL several new arms

But UL has several new arms coming in, including one belonging to lefty Dalton Horton.

The potential weekend starter redshirted in 2018 after transferring from Texas Christian, where he was a Freshman All-American and an All-Big 12 Freshman Team selection in 2016 after posting a 2.58 ERA in 13 appearances including 12 starts over 59.1 innings in 2016.

But Robichaux does lose No. 1 starting pitcher/Sun Belt Pitcher of the Year Colten Schmidt and No. 1 closer Logan Stoelke, both of whom could get drafted as seniors, along with senior reliever Dylan Moore, the all-time Sun Belt saves leader who after four years at UL was accepted into law school at the University of Texas.

Lee began and finished the season as a starter, but filled the closer role for a while as well in 2018.

UL bullpen in 2019

All that adds up to big holes on the back end of the UL bullpen in 2019, although freshmen Austin Perrin, Brock Batty, Michael Leaumont and Brett Williams all are expected to return along with starter Jack Burk and reliever Grant Cox.

The Cajuns could have their closer of the future, though, in recent signee Austin Bradford, a Franklinton High product via LSU-Eunice.

“Our pitching and our bullpen,” Robichaux said, “is gonna continue to be good.”

AROUND THE INFIELD

Robichaux also returns much of his starting infield, with shortstop Hayden Cantrelle and third baseman Jonathan Windham — both freshmen in 2018 — and second baseman Hunter Kasuls, UL’s RBI leader with 49, all coming back.

“The third baseman has been so good defensively. He’ll hopefully get better as a hitter, and mature,” Robichaux said of Windham, who hit just .171. “Our shortstop (Cantrelle) is gonna do nothing but get better.

“Our second baseman (Kasuls, an All-Sun Belt Tournament pick) is going to come back and be a little more physical, because he’ll be a senior.”

Specialist Tyler Stover

But there will be a big hole at first base, with utiltyman/second team All-Sun Belt pick Kennon Fontenot and defensive specialist Tyler Stover both having been seniors.

Returnees Todd Lott and Tremaine Spears will be worked out at first in the fall, as will infielder Mason Templet, just to name a few.

Templet — a St. Thomas More High product who began his career at LSU, where he had just six at-bats as a freshman in 2017 — is a recently announced signee from LSU-E signee.

Monica could also see some fall work at first, and perhaps could play there when he’s not behind the plate in 2019.

IN THE OUTFIELD

UL does lose senior corner outfielder Zach LaFleur, but fellow starting outfielders Daniel Lahare and Gavin Bourgeois — the Cajuns’ No. 1 and 2 hitters at .321 and .311, respectively — will be seniors next season.

Both were playing their first seasons at UL in 2018 after transferring in from junior colleges.

“You’ve got Bourgeois back, Lahare back and we’ve got some other kids coming in that are very, very good players, that are physical and fast, so that we can get back to trying to being more physical and faster,” Robichaux said.

“The guys that are coming back will have one good year of experience in the Sun Belt,” he added. “I think we had 15 guys that never faced Division I pitching before they got here. They’ll be more seasoned.”

Big pickup for UL

One big pickup for UL is St. Thomas More High product Brennan Breaux, who sat out 2018 at UL after transferring from LSU.

He’ll be among several contending for the open spot and pushing Lahare and Bourgeois for playing time in the outfield, along with — among others — returnees Alex Hannie and Marcos Ramos and high school signees Dexter Jordan and Connor Joffrion.

Joffrion is a Parkview Baptist High product who signed with UL last fall.

Jordan, also a standout pitcher at Hattiesburg High in Mississippi, is the signee UL most fears it could lose to the MLB Draft.

Hannie, another STM product and an outfielder-pitcher, sat out his 2018 freshman season due to a back injury.

Playing both in

Ramos made the team this year as a walk-on and appeared in 21 games, playing both in the outfield and as a pinch-hitter/pinch-runner.

He was listed all season by the Cajuns as a senior, but according to a team spokesman Ramos has a season of eligibility remaining and is expected to be back in the fall for another bid at making UL’s 35-man roster.

Breaux appeared in 49 games as a reserve outfielder/pinch-runner for the Tigers in 2016, and in 30 games including eight starts in 2017. He hit just .157 in 70 at-bats during his two years in Baton Rouge, however.

NEED MORE MUSCLE, SPEED

Depth in the infield could come from another STM product and ex-Tiger, O’Neal Lochridge.

He began 2018 as UL’s starting third baseman, but — slow to return from a back injury that cost him a season at LSU — wound up appearing in just 19 games including 10 starts and hitting only .121 for the Cajuns.

“You’ve got Lochridge that I think is gonna help, because he’s gonna be one year more down the road (from the injury),” Robichaux said.

“We’ve got some physical, good athletes coming in. We will have to contend with the draft a little bit.

“(But) if we can get those guys here, that’s gonna be key, because it’s going to add some physicality to us, speed to us, some athleticism to us,” he added. “I think that’s what we’ve got to continue to grow back into the fold.”

Nearly enough

Physicality was especially something UL did not have nearly enough of in 2018, when through the regular season and the Sun Belt Tournament its .242 batting average was second-to-last in the conference and topped only by Appalachian State’s .209 and its 29 home runs were more than only the 27 of Appalachian State and Georgia Southern.

“The people that are left standing,” Robichaux said after UL’s season ended, “are the teams that can swing the bat.”

It was a reality Robichaux simply could not shake after 34-25 UL — which won the Sun Belt’s West Division, and took the No. 2 seed into the conference tourney on its own field — mustered only a combined two runs in its final two games and just one hit, a solo homer by McKinnon, in its finale against Texas State.

“With the size of the guys now that will be one more year stronger and more physical, mixed with what’s coming in,” Robichaux said, “I think those two things definitely will help us — because sometimes you’re gonna get caught in a firefight, sometimes you’ve got to score runs.”

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