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Baseball: Bazar remains an option – Encouraging Plitt – Dogpile Dilemma

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, June 6, 2014


UL pitcher Reagan Bazar (41) raises his hands in celebration toward fans after the team’s 5-3 victory over Mississippi State on Monday to advance to the Super Regionals. (Photo: Paul Kieu/The Advertiser )

Ragin’ Cajuns coach Tony Robichaux used reliever Reagan Bazar regularly early this season.

With a 4-0 record, six saves and a 2.32 ERA, the big Texan was even named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American earlier this week.

But Bazar was utilized less extensively later in the year, and didn’t pitch at all in either UL’s four-game run through the recent Sun Belt Conference Tournament or its five-game NCAA Tournament Lafayette Regional run last weekend.

The inactivity, though, doesn’t necessarily mean Bazar is done for the season, Robichaux suggested.

"I would not be fearful to use him at all," said Robichaux, whose Cajuns host Ole Miss in a best-of-three Super Regional that starts Saturday night and determines which of the two advances to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.

One reason Robichaux would be comfortable turning to the heat-throwing Bazar, who according to the scoreboard speed gun at The Tigue hit 100 miles per hour in his debut as a Cajun, is how he’s looked in practice.

"We’re constantly working those (little-used) guys. … That helps us trust them," he said. "We go off of what we see during the week – how well do they look. And (Bazar) threw very well (Tuesday)."

That same day, Robichaux chatted with Bazar about the subject.

"I told him (Tuesday), ‘Look, I just want you to know something: Be patient, stay working, make sure you’re ready. … We’ve tried to use the regular season to get you as much experience as we can, but we’re kind of putting a lot of this on these experienced arms right now,’ " the Cajuns coach said.

" ‘That’s what most people do at this time of year. And if I do need you, just make sure you’re ready. But it’s not because I’m scared to use you, or I mistrust you. We’re just putting some of this burden on some of these older arms.’ "

The talk didn’t end there.

"I said, ‘Next year, and the year after, you’re gonna be the guy we’re gonna be putting stuff on your shoulders, and not on maybe some young freshman, no matter how good he is,’ " Robichaux said. "So, he understood that."

One key as to whether Bazar throws – either this weekend or, if the Cajuns advance, in Omaha – is the issue of who is calling balls and strikes.

"A lot of times what we check with him late in games is, ‘What’s the umpire’s strike zone?’ " Robichaux said. "Because that’s important. … Then (we’ll) work accordingly from there.

"We like him. He’s the future of this program. (But) the biggest thing right now is we’re saddling some of this burden on some of these older arms."

Robichaux used senior Matt Plitt three times and only senior Matt Hicks, senior Ben Carter and junior Martin Anderson once each out of the bullpen during UL’s five Regional games.


It only takes a few words of encouragement to make a world of difference, and Plitt is happy so many teammates so frequently offer them.

And as far as he’s concerned, it can come from any of them when he’s on the mound.

"Position players – they’re the greatest at coming up and getting us to calm down, and getting us through the inning," Plitt said. "Each guy can come up one-by-one, or all of them can come together. It really doesn’t matter."


The Cajuns had an inarguably awkward-looking dogpile celebration after winning their Regional. Robichaux accepts responsibility for causing the confusion.

"I hollered, ‘Go dogpile,’ " he said. "Two or three ’em … thought I said, ‘Don’t dogpile.’ … But not enough of them.

"So," Robichaux added, "we’ll do a better one this weekend."


The Cajuns spent part of this week answering a barrage of questions regarding the beards they’ve been growing all season.

When it came to the issue of who has the worst, catcher Michael Strentz went with teammates Connor Toups and Cody Boutte.

"I thought he was gonna get me for the worst," joked Robichaux, who has a late start compared to his players. "But he (Strentz) knows there’s two more games to go for sure that he wants to catch in."


With five finalists named Thursday, two semifinalists from UL – second baseman Jace Conrad and left fielder Caleb Adams – are out of contention for the Dick Howser Trophy honoring college baseball’s Player of the Year.

The finalists: Oregon State outfielder Michael Conforto and pitcher Ben Wetlezer, LSU pitcher Aaron Nola, Kennesaw State catcher Max Pentecost, and Kentucky first baseman/DH/pitcher A.J. Reed.


Weather permitting, UL will practice from 1-2:30 p.m. Friday at M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field and Ole Miss will practice there from 2:45-4:15 p.m.

Both sessions are open to the public, per NCAA rule.

Robichaux warns about draft

Several Ragin’ Cajuns expect to hear their names called in this week’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, which began Thursday night, continues Friday with rounds 3-10 and concludes Saturday with rounds 11-40.

UL coach Tony Robichaux, however, has warned his players about being presumptuous.

"Some teams might be looking for young high school pitchers. Some teams don’t like pitchers that aren’t over 6 feet," he said. "We try to explain them all the time (that) … you cannot figure this out.

The only thing you can do is play as hard as you can, to the best of your ability, and then wait for you name to go up on the board, then wait for the call.

"One guy can have 9-to-10 meetings with teams, and then on that morning he can be drafted by a team that has never spoken to him. … You can have nine or 10 meetings, and not get drafted," Robichaux added. "So what you have to prepare them for is to not have this letdown."

– Tim Buckley