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Baseball: Plitt delivers in clutch for Cajuns

Eric Narcisse, The Advertiser, June 3, 2014


UL pitcher Matt Plitt (35) comes on to protect the lead for the Cajuns for regional title. (Photo: Paul Kieu/The Advertiser )

Regardless of what the situation is when Matt Plitt is handed the ball out of the bullpen, UL Ragin’ Cajuns head coach Tony Robichaux delivers the same message to him as he gives him the ball.

And the message is quite short, but straight to the point.

"Attack," Plitt said. "That’s what he tells me every single time. That’s basically it."

Plitt did just that in Monday’s winner-take-all NCAA Lafayette Regional Championship game, as he came up big in the final two and one-third innings of work to lead the Cajuns past Mississippi State 5-3 to advance to the Super Regional.

"Matt Plitt has probably been one of the hottest guys out of our bullpen over the last 30 days," Robichaux said. "To come out there and get those big outs was just huge."

Plitt, who allowed two hits and two walks, while striking out four in two and one-third innings, relished the opportunity to take the mound in a crucial situation.

"Me personally, I’ve never been in a big situation like that with all of the crowd and stuff like that except for last year’s regional," Plitt said. "Just getting through it with my teammates. Every guys behind you has got your back and that pretty much can get you through any situation."

In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Bulldogs began to put together a two-out rally while trailing 4-1. Cajuns starting pitcher Ryan Wilson hit Matthew Brittan and walked Seth Heck before giving way to Plitt, who then allowed back-to-back RBI singles to C.T. Bradford and Brett Pirtle that pulled the Bulldogs to within one at 4-3.

But that’s as close as the Bulldogs would get, as Plitt found his way and began to thwart Mississippi State’s bats.

Plitt struck out Gavin Collins to end the seventh, before striking out Wes Rea, getting Jake Vickerson to line out to center and striking out Britton to end the eighth.

In the ninth, Plitt was even more impressive as he retired Heck, Bradford and Pirtle in order to end the game and propel the Cajuns into the next round.

"Mattie struggled early in the year," Robichaux said, "but all of a sudden he kept going, kept working and kept working and kept working and now he is one of the hottest guys out of the bullpen."

It’s that hard work and determination to get better that has been vital to Plitt’s hot streak according to Robichaux.

"The big thing is that he kept coming back into the bullpen and working," Robichaux said of Plitt. "No matter what had occurred, he kept coming back to the bullpen and working. Working to stay connected and working to keep the ball down and just working. When self-pity creeps in and you aren’t doing good, you have a tendency to stop working. One thing you have to fight when that happens is you have to continue working and that’s one thing I have to give him credit for.

"I think he has done a great job of staying connected and really finishing his pitches at the end," Robichaux added. "Sometimes he flies open and they get a little bit better view of stuff and the balls up a little bit. I think he is learning how to attack with his fastball now personally. When you attack with your fastball everything usually fits in and I think he is doing a good job of attacking with his fastball. The biggest crux of it is his continued work in the pen."