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Baseball: Cajuns finish one win short of CWS return trip – photo gallery

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, June 10, 2014

UL catcher Michael Strentz (11) drops the ball allowing Ole Miss’ J.B. Woodman (12) to score during the Rebels’ 10-4 win over the Cajuns on Monday. (Photo: Leslie Westbrook/The Advertiser )

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Ole Miss is headed to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., for the first time since 1972.


The nation’s No. 1-ranked and NCAA Tournament’s sixth-seeded Ragin’ Cajuns failed to make it back for the first time since the only season it went in 2000, instead falling 10-4 to the Rebels in a decisive best-of-three Lafayette Super Regional Game on Monday night in front of 4,295 at M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field.

The devastating loss reduced to tears Cajuns from a Sun Belt Conference-champion club that finished 58-10 and, after also going down in Game 2, dropped back-to-back games for the first time all season.

"These guys have just have played their hearts out," UL coach Tony Robichaux said, "and I think that’s why you see the passion and the emotion with them.

"They know they were good enough to get there," he added. "The problem is, there’s a lot of people home today believing they were good enough to get there too. But only eight go. And that’s what makes Omaha special."

Click here for post-game video.

The UL baseball team reacts after losing to Ole Miss in Game 3 of the NCAA Super Regionals. Chad Washington, The Advertiser

Ole Miss (46-19) put UL away with a four-run ninth inning, but not before the Cajuns gave the Rebels a few scares.

Ryan Leonards doubled, moved to third on Jace Conrad’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Tyler Girouard’s sac fly to put UL up 1-0 in the third inning.

Cajuns starter Cody Boutte kept the Rebels scoreless for three innings, but Ole Miss got to him in the top of the fourth as Auston Bousfield led off with a double to left-center, Austin Anderson followed with a two-run home run to left-center and – one batter later – Sikes Orvis delivered a solo homer to right make it 3-1.

Boutte got himself out of the fourth with no further damage, but exited after hitting Rebels leadoff batter Braxton Lee to open the fifth.

The Cajun bullpen struggled behind Boutte, as UL wound up issuing eight walks and hitting three batsmen in all.

"You’ve got to give credit where credit’s due. Ole Miss pitched very well," Robichaux said of Rebels Sam Smith, Scott Weathersby (3-1) and Josh Laxer (sixth save). "They kept us from having big innings. We would slow them down, then we’d have a walk here, then a base hit there, and score one. And we never really could stop the bleeding."

"They just pitched really well," third baseman Leonards added with reference to an Ole Miss trio that combined to allow nine hits and issue only two walks. "They threw a bunch of really good arms at us, and we just couldn’t get into a rhythm. We couldn’t get the big hits when needed them."

Especially late.

UL did get two back in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game at 3-3 as Chase Compton scored on Michael Strentz’s groundout and Leonards lined a double to left-center to score Dylan Butler, who had doubled off of Anderson’s glove at third.

But with Cajuns relievers struggling, Ole Miss took a 4-3 lead in the fifth.

After getting struck by Boutte, Lee advanced to second on a Matt Hicks wild pitch and moved to third on a second Hicks wild pitch. Lefty Chris Griffitt took over after Hicks got Will Lee to fly out, but he hit Orvis with his first and only offering to load the bases.

Workhorse reliever Matt Plitt entered, and against the first batter he faced Lee scored on a passed ball.

Ole Miss tacked on one more in the sixth, scoring what proved to hold up as the winning run with a note of controversy.

UL thought it was out of the inning, only to have what it thought was a fair-ball, third-out grounder to first by Lee ruled foul. Lee wound up walking, and one batter later, Bousfield had an RBI double that made it 5-3.

"When you’re playing a good team like we played," Robichaux said, "you’d like to get every break, because every break can help you."

The Cajuns did get to within one run when Girouard reached on two same-play pitcher errors and came across on Harrison’s seventh-inning double down the left-field line.

But Adams tried to score from first behind Girouard, and was thrown out at the plate by cutoff man Errol Robinson on a relay from left.

"They made the big plays when they needed to," Leonards said. "That’s just how it went."

"This game is a lot about momentum. We had the momentum going our way, and I feel like that play just kind of took it and gave a little bit back to Ole Miss," Harrison added. "They did a great job relaying it in, and they got the call. … We came back and tried to respond and fight the rest of the game, and it just didn’t work out."

With a 5-4 lead, Ole Miss got back up by two as J.B. Woodman scored on Lee’s sac fly in the eighth – then, with a Cajun comeback still within reach, exploded for the four ninth-inning runs to sap most of UL’s remaining life.

Holt Perdzock’s two-RBI double sparked Ole Miss’ scoring during a top half in which UL used four different relievers.

Josh Laxer finished in the bottom of the ninth by getting Blake Trahan to strike out looking, Girouard to fly out to centerfielder and Adams to ground out to shortstop Robinson.

"Give them credit," Robichaux said. "They turned us around in that last inning, and got the big inning. And that’s the one thing we wanted to try to stay away from with them.

"And we never got the big inning. They got one, and they got one deep into the game. That really is what did us in."