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Baseball: Mission Omaha – Cajuns’ road to CWS is realized – photo gallery and video – selection show

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, May 27, 2014


UL baseball fans standing down the leftfield line react to receiving a sixth overall seed in the NCAA Baseball Selection Show program Monday while watching it on the scoreboard at Tigue Moore Field. (Photo: Paul Kieu/The Advertiser )

"Will it be easy? No, it will not," added Robichaux, whose 53-7 Cajuns also moved up to No. 1 in four different national polls that were updated Monday. "But we have the style that we need to get there."

Also tapped to play with host UL in Lafayette this week: Mississippi State (the Regional’s No. 2 seed), San Diego State (the Regional’s No. 3 seed) and Jackson State (the Regional’s No. 4 seed).

The Regional opens at 1 p.m. Friday with Mississippi State and San Diego State facing off at M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field.

UL, the Sun Belt Conference’s regular-season and tournament title winner, plays SWAC Tournament-champion Jackson State in the nightcap at 6 p.m. at The Tigue.

Jackson State went 31-23 this season, but just 9-15 in SWAC play, and got into the NCAA tournament because it won its conference tourney.

The Tigers also played in last year’s NCAA Baton Rouge Regional, where UL became familiar with them. The Jackson, Miss.-based program dropped its 2013 opener 11-7 there to host LSU, and the Cajuns – who later were eliminated by LSU – then beat JSU 15-1 in a loser’s bracket game.

"They were a dangerous team last year," Robichaux said. "They took LSU and pushed them in their first game – and those first games are always difficult, because a lot of times the name might not be there, but the No. 1 pitcher is. Everybody’s got a No. 1 pitcher.

Click here for video of Coach Robichaux and players as UL baseball gets No. 6 national seed in NCAA tourney Chad Washington, The Advertiser

"And last year those guys could swing the bat real well," he added. "We were fortunate (No. 1 arm) Austin (Robichaux) pitched a very good game against them to be able to advance in that regional."

Tony Robichaux expects the Cajuns will have quite a fight on their hands all weekend.

"You can’t take anybody lightly now, because they just narrowed this thing down from about 300 to 64," he said. "So, they’re all doing something right.

"I know people look at, ‘This is an easy regional,’ or ‘This regional … ‘ I’ve never looked at it thataway," he added. "The bottom line to me is if you’re gonna utter the word ‘Omaha,’ you’ve got to be able to take down whoever is in your way."

Cajun players concur.

"Honestly, I have no clue who (Jackson State has) coming back from last year, or what they have," second baseman Jace Conrad said.

"But the way we think about is, ‘You’re gonna have to beat good teams, and you’re gonna have to beat every team that comes your way from here on out.’ "

The national seeding this year is the first-ever for UL, which won the Sun Belt Conference regular-season championship and beat Texas-Arlington 6-5 at Sunday’s Sun Belt Tournament title game in Mobile, Ala.

Winning the right to host a regional is second such occasion for the Cajuns, who also had the honor in 2000 – the last and only other time they went to Omaha for the CWS.

"We were hoping we’d get that national seed, because with our fans here, and (the) atmosphere that our fans bring us here to our park," left fielder Caleb Adams said. "It’s a huge advantage to have to have earned (that because) it’s always an advantage when you have fans like we have."

Oregon State is seeded No. 1 nationally, Florida No. 2, Virginia Tech No. 3, Indiana No. 4, Florida No. 5, Texas Christian No. 7 and LSU No. 8 in the 64-team NCAA Tournament Field.

If UL wins its Regional and an ensuing Super Regional that it would hosted because it is a top-eight seed – against the winner of the Oxford Regional, which includes Ole Miss, Washington, Georgia Tech and Jacksonville State – it will advance to the eight-team College World Series that opens June 4 in Omaha, Neb.

"The (2000) Omaha team (was) a bunch of grinders," Robichaux said. "This group definitely is a bunch of grinders."