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Baseball: UL one win away from CWS after winning opener

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, June 8, 2013

UL’s Tyler Girouard (9) celebrates with Jace Conrad (19) and Ryan Leonards (7) after hitting a three-run home run against Ole Miss on Saturday. (Photo: Leslie Westbrook/The Advertiser )

They bunted the ball. They blasted the ball. They had a ball doing it.

The No. 1-ranked Ragin’ Cajuns hit their way to a 9-5 win over Ole Miss in Game 1 of their best-of-three Super Regional series Saturday night, leaving coach Tony Robichaux’s club one way away from its first College World series appearance since its only one in 2000.

UL (58-8) did it in front of an over-capacity 4,278 at M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field behind Tyler Girouard’s three-run homer in the fifth inning, Caleb Adams’ leaping catch at the left-field wall, starter Austin Robichaux’s response to a shaky start and reliever Matt Plitt’s two scoreless innings capped by a game-ending double play.

"We just played good baseball," Tony Robichaux said. "We knew we had to do it to try to beat these guys."

Ole Miss (44-19) got to Austin Robichaux with a three-run second inning, but the junior righty settled down by getting his changeup to work.

Click here for post-game video.

The UL baseball team talks to the media after its Super Regional win over Ole Miss in Game 1. Chad Washington, The Advertiser

After the rough second, the righty allowed only one more run in the fourth and one in the seventh.

"There’s no other team I’d rather pitch for than these guys," Robichaux said. "They deserve all the credit. … I don’t think I had my best stuff, but that’s the good thing about this team. I can pitch without my best stuff, and they can still come back and win the game."

The Cajuns made it 3-1 when Girouard walked and, with two outs, scored from second when Auston Bousfield muffed Seth Harrison’s fly ball to shallow centerfield.

Bousfield blamed the miscue on neither the sun nor extra lights brought in for ESPN2’s telecast of the game.

"I was under it. It hit my glove, and it bounced out," Bousfield said. "I just didn’t catch it."

UL took the lead for good with a five-run third that started when Michael Strentz scored on Blake Trahan’s groundout.

Girouard was the Cajuns’ next man up, and he sent a shot – just his third homer this season – over the wall near the line in right that also scored Jace Conrad and Ryan Leonards.

"It felt pretty good," Girouard said.

"It’s kind of one of those things where I really don’t think it’s me," the Teurlings Catholic product added. "Anyone in that situation could have done it. … The whole team can do stuff like that in big situations."

The home run chased Ole Miss starter Chris Ellis after just 2.1 innings.

Ellis, who was selected by the Los Angeles Angels on Friday in the third round of the Major League Baseball Player Draft, readily acknowledged that he was control issues.

"I had a little trouble (throwing strikes)," he said, "and got myself in a lot of trouble."

Before the third was done, Chase Compton scored on a balk to make it 6-3 Cajuns.

After Braxton Lee’s two-out triple for Ole Miss in the fourth scored Errol Robinson, who had walked, UL responded with a three-run fifth.

Girouard started the fifth for UL with a single, moved to third on back-to-back bunts by Adams and Compton, and scored on a wild pitch.

Adams later scored on Harrison’s groundout, and Butler homered to left (his sixth of the season) to close out UL’s scoring.

After Ole Miss picked up one last run on Will Allen’s two-out single in the seventh, Plitt finished things off for the Cajuns – including a game-ending 6-4-3 double play.

But before he did, Adams came up big – literally – to end the top half of the seventh by jumping high to rob Sikes Orvis of a likely two-run homer that could have trimmed the Cajun lead to 9-7.

Adams’ glove was at the top of the wall.

"A great catch by Caleb," Tony Robichaux said.

The Cajuns bunted four times in all, plus had the two homers.

Adams’ bunt single was UL’s 50th this season, and its 11th in six NCAA Tournament games so far this year.

"That was the game plan coming in," Adams said. "We obviously want to score as many runs as we can. That’s the name of the game.

"And against a good team like that, putting up nine runs is definitely a big deal. Scoring that many runs on a team of that caliber makes it really good for you."

Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco probably could not agree more, and credited the Cajuns. But he also suggested his own’s club play did not help matters.

"They (the Cajuns) have a lot of good hitters in their lineup," he said. "They handle a lot of different pitches. I don’t know if people give them enough credit to how well they do hit.

"They got 11 hits," Bianco said, "but I just felt like we gave them too many opportunities. And that’s what we talked about all week, is to limit their opportunities, and if you do that obviously you have a much better shot."

Game 2 is the series is at 8 tonight at The Tigue.