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Baseball: Cardiac Cajuns reach Houston Regional final

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, May 31, 2015


Houston Regional NCAA

UL players celebrate on the field after a walk-off run was scored by infielder Joe Robbins (12) off of a walk by designated hitter Tyler Girouard (9) with bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th inning to give the team the 2-1 victory over the Houston Cougars during an NCAA regional baseball game at the University of Houston in Houston, Tx., Sunday, May 31, 2015.(Photo: Paul Kieu, The Advertiser)


PHOTO GALLERY: NCAA Regional: UL vs. Houston


The UL baseman won another wild one today, and is now one victory from an NCAA Regional championship.

Down by one run going to the bottom of the ninth, the Ragin’ Cajuns beat No. 1 Regional seed and host Houston 2-1 when designated Tyler Girouard was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to force in Joe Robbins with the winning run.

Houston true-freshman lefty Seth Romero threw a one-hitter through eighth innings as the Cougars tried to cling to the lead after getting a first-inning home run in an NCAA Houston Regional winners-bracket game Cougar Field here.

After Romero walked UL’s Dylan Butler to open the bottom of the ninth, true freshman Aaron Fletcher entered in relief.

That’s when things began to unravel for Houston.

Blake Trahan’s sacrifice bunt off Fletcher moved Butler to second and Robbins reached E6 to put Cajuns on first and third with one out.

Butler then scored from third by beating Fletcher’s throw home on a Kyle Clement bunt to tie the game at 1-1.

Stefan Trosclair loaded the bases for UL with an infield single, and UL won when Fletcher hit Girouard, who flung his bat high into the air in celebration.

UL starter Gunner Leger gave up a two-out solo home run to left to Chris Iriart in the top of the first.

It was the 15th homer of the season – but the first since May 2, almost a month ago – for the Cougars first baseman.

UL went down in order in each of the first four innings, and Romero retired the first 13 he faced before walking Girouard – who soon was out trying to steal second.

After Evan Powell flew out on a foul ball, Romero – the American Athletic Conference’s Freshman of the Year – still had faced the minimum through five complete and Houston’s lead remained 1-0.

That remained the case until the bottom of the eighth inning.

Girouard’s walk was Romero’s only blemish until Powell broke up his no-hitter with a single to left with two out in the eighth.

Houston earlier thought it had Powell out 2-3, but the play was ruled a foul ball.

Greg Davis walked after Powell singled, but Cajuns on first second and second – but Romero struck out Nick Thurman to end the inning.

Leger, meanwhile, got out of a bases-loaded jam in the second with fly ball to Powell in left and first-and-second jam in the sixth with a strikeout and a popup to shortstop Blake Trahan.

During a stretch from late in the second to early in the sixth, though, Leger retired 11 straight.

Leger, the Sun Belt Conference’s Freshman of the Year, left after six innings and after having thrown 77 pitches, 52 of them for strikes.

Senior Greg Milhorn entered in the seventh and promptly retired the side in order, starting with two strikeouts.

Two one-out singles and a fielder’s choice put Cougars on second and third in the top of the eighth, but Milhorn escaped the jam with a fly ball to centerfield and he retired the side in order in the top of the ninth, setting up another wacky ending for UL.

The Cajuns rallied with five runs in the ninth to beat Rice 7-6 in their Regional opener Friday, and they won the Sun Belt Tournament on a 12th-inning grand slam by Trosclair last Sunday to win a Regional bid.

Houston now will play Rice again in a losers-bracket game at 8 (central) tonight.

Rice advanced to the game tonight by beating Houston Baptist 3-1 in a suspended game that began Saturday and finished earlier today.

Houston Baptist was eliminated from the four-team, double-elimination Regional.

UL advances to Monday’s 1 p.m. championship-round game against the winner of tonight’s Houston-Rice game. The Cajuns can win the Regional title with a win in that game. Otherwise, the same two teams would meet again at 6 p.m. Monday here.