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Baseball: Cajun bats fail in clutch situation

Eric Narcisse, The Advertiser, May 31, 2014

The nation’s No. 1-ranked UL Ragin’ Cajuns received a stellar outing from starting pitcher Austin Robichaux and saw their defense play turn in a great performance on balls put in play by Jackson State.

With the offensive power the Cajuns’ lineup possess, one would think that would be the perfect recipe for victory for UL.

And for the vast majority of the season it has been, but not on Friday.

The Cajuns’ inability to come up with a hit with runners on base proved to be detrimental and ruined an otherwise great outing by Robichaux, as UL was upset in the NCAA Regional 1-0 by Jackson State at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field.

“That’s what you want to do, pitch and play defense,” Cajuns head coach Tony Robichaux said. “From there, you want to try to get timely hitting. They got the one timely hit and we didn’t get the timely hit when we needed it and that’s the difference in the ball game. Give their guys credit.”

The Cajuns, who recorded eight hits and drew four walks in the loss, stranded 11 runners on base on the night.

“They were definitely throwing with a lot less velocity than we were used to,” said Cajuns shortstop Blake Trahan, who was the lone UL player to record multiple hits in the game and finished the contest 3-for-4. “Baseball is a game where you have to make an adjustment and we didn’t do that and we didn’t get the timely hit.”

Two of the Cajuns’ best chances to score came in the bottom of the seventh and eighth innings, but they couldn’t seem to hit a ball where a Jackson State defender wasn’t positioned.

Trahan delivered a one-out single in the bottom of the seventh, but was later caught stealing for the second out. That proved to be a crucial out as the Cajuns had Ryan Leonards reach with a two-out single to center and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Seth Harrison.

Harrison reached first base safely after JSU’s pitcher bobbled the ball to give UL runners at first and third and two outs. Harrison advanced to second on a passed ball to put the go-ahead run at second, but Jace Conrad flew out to center to end the inning and the threat.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Cajuns received a leadoff walk by Caleb Adams and a bunt single by pinch hitter Tyler Girouard to give them runners at first and second with no outs. After a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt advanced Girouard and Adams to second and third with one out, catcher Michael Strentz flew out to center and pinch hitter Kyle Clement struck out to end the inning and leave the Cajuns trailing 1-0.

“We just didn’t get the timely hit,” Tony Robichaux said. “On the other hand you have to give them credit. Their pitchers stopped us from getting the timely hits. We had a chance to get a big lick right there (8th inning) with runners at second and third. At least get one run in right there, but we didn’t get the timely hit. Their one timely hit did us in and normally one timely hit in the middle of the game doesn’t do you in, but it did.”

Although they are stunned by the loss, Tony Robichaux and Trahan expects the Cajuns to return to the field with this loss behind them.

“We’re a little shocked,” Trahan said. “Baseball is a funny game you know. We’re going to have to come back and bounce back tomorrow. We got hit in the mouth, but we’re going to have to stand back up.”