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Baseball: UL Baseball Notebook – Winning Sun Belt tournament proved crucial for Cajuns

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, May 27, 2014

   UL went into last week’s Sun Belt Conference baseball Tournament in Mobile, Ala., figuring it was in good shape to be a top-eight national seed in the 64-team NCAA Tournament.

 

   At the time, the Ragin’ Cajuns were 49-7 with no back-to-back losses, only two road losses, a win over LSU and wins in 2-of-3 games vs. Alabama.

 

   “We knew we had to win a game or two to probably get a top-eight seed, so we decided to just try to win the whole thing,” second baseman Jace Conrad said.

 

   Good thing for them they did.

 

   After winning four straight in Mobile, including Sunday’s 6-5 title-game win over Texas-Arlington, the Cajuns felt even better about their chances to be in the top eight and host a Super Regional if they win the Regional they’ll host this week. 

 

   “We figured (afterward) we would have a pretty good chance to get that national seed,” left fielder Caleb Adams said. “You know, our body of work all year, 53-7 – that’s a pretty good record.”

 

   It’s the most wins for any team during the 2014 regular season.

 

   “We pretty much all knew we had it,” pitcher Austin Robichaux said after UL was seeded No. 6 on Monday, when it also learned Mississippi State, San Diego State and Jackson State will visit for the Lafayette Regional.

 

   UL opens the double-elimination Regional at 6 p.m. Friday against Jackson State.

 

   “You know, there’s still a little bit (of doubt) in the back of your mind,” Robichaux said. “But we pretty much knew we had it had in locked in with going through the conference tournament without dropping one.”

 

   Had the Cajuns stumbled, though, things might have been different.

 

   UL was among five teams being considered for the final three national seeds, along No. 7 Texas Christian No. 8 LSU – and the two that lost out, Vanderbilt and Rice.

 

   No one can say for sure, but it’s believed its possible strength-of-schedule issues might have bitten the Cajuns had they not proceeded to win the SBC tourney.

 

   Either way, though, Conrad wasn’t worried.

 

   “Before I went to bed (Sunday) night, I told myself, ‘You’re not gonna get too pumped up, because you expect to get a top-eight seed,’ ” he said. “That goes for all teammates and coaches as well. We expected to host a regional, and we expected to get a top-eight seed.

 

   “So of our course it helps, and we’re excited now,” Conrad added. “But that’s over with now, and it’s time to take care of business.”

 

 

 

   NATIONAL RANKINGS

 

   In addition to receiving a No. 6 NCAA Tournament national seed Monday, the UL baseball team also moved up to No. 1 in four national polls Monday: Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball, USA Today (coaches) and NCBWA (writers).

 

   UL was ranked No. 2 in all four last week, but this week the Cajuns leapfrogged No. 1 tourney seed Oregon State, which closed its regular season by losing 2-of-3 to Southern California last weekend.

 

   It’s the first time in program history the Cajuns have been ranked No. 1 by Baseball America and the NCBWA. They were No. 1 in Collegiate Baseball and USA Today polls earlier this season.

 

   Perfect Game, which had UL No. 3 last week, won’t update its poll until today because Monday was Memorial Day.

 

 

 

   TICKET TALK

 

   Regional ticket booklets for all seven games cost $70 (grandstand seats), $60 (patio box seats) and $50 (bleachers).

 

   Tickets for the Regional are being sold now to UL baseball season ticket holders, with invoices offered until noon today. Season ticket holders who’ve already submitted requests in advance will have their credit card automatically charged.

 

   Following season ticket holders in order of priority are 2014 RCAF annual fund donors, who are encouraged by UL officials to place their order for additional sessions or regional booklets by 5 p.m. Wednesday, either on RaginCajuns.com or by calling (337) 265-2170.

 

   In the highly unlikely event any available regional tickets are not purchased by season ticket holders or RCAF donors by 5 p.m. Wednesday, they’ll go on sale to the general public at 10 a.m. Friday (limit: four tickets per account).

 

   Individual-session tickets, if available, also will go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday.

 

   Due to this year’s large number of season ticket holders, UL officials are encouraging fans to get  ticket orders in early. Cajundome ticket office hours this week are 10 a.m. until 8 p.m.

 

 

 

   TRAHAN RECOGNIZED

 

   One day after being named Most Outstanding Player at the Sun Belt Tournament, UL sophomore shortstop Blake Trahan was recognized as one of six Collegiate Baseball/Louisville Slugger national Players of the Week.

 

   Trahan went 7-for-12 with four extra-base hits and five RBI in four tourney games last week, including a deciding game-winning homer in the seventh inning of the Cajuns’ one-run title-game victory over Texas-Arlington.

 

 

 

   HE TWEETED IT

 

   Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal: “Great weekend for Louisiana baseball! LSU, UL-Lafayette, and Southeastern all win conference tournaments. Excited for the NCAA tourney!”

 

 

 

   LAGNIAPPE

 

   Practice sessions for all teams Thursday will be open to the public. All games in the double-elimination tourney will be played at 1 p.m. or 6 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The tourney’s ‘if-necessary’ game would be played at 6 p.m. Monday. … All Lafayette Regional games will be carried online by ESPN3.