home sitesearch sitemap contact fan about
  Submit/Update Profile  

Search the Network:

Baseball: UL’s Robbins the type to tape up, throw down

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, June 4, 2016



Joe Robbins slides into third while delivering the go-ahead RBI in the eighth inning of UL’s 5-3 win over Prince in the NCAA Lafayette Regional at The Tigue.(Photo: SCOTT CLAUSE/THE ADVERTISER)


He’s been battling a wrist injury that cost him a pinch of playing time earlier this season.

Truth be told, the joint still isn’t quite right – and it perhaps has had much to do with his batting average dropping as the year as progressed.

But when UL needed him most Friday night, Joe Robbins delivered.

The Ragin’ Cajuns third baseman tripled to the wall in left-center in the bottom of the eighth inning in an opening NCAA Lafayette Regional game against Princeton at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field, scoring Hunter Kasuls with the go-ahead run that snapped a 3-3 tie in an eventual 5-3 win over the Ivy League’s Tigers.

He later scored an insurance run on Kyle Clement’s sacrifice fly too.

Cajuns coach Tony Robichaux would expect nothing less from Robbins, a Tioga High product from Pineville whose father Ronnie Robbins pitched for LSU in the early 1980s and at the Class A level in the Toronto Blue Jays organization.

“That’s what I like about Joe: Wherever’s he’s gonna be, he’s gonna tape it up and he’s gonna throw down,” Robichaux said when asked not long about Robbins playing through his painful wrist injury. “I think that’s why he’s a good player.

“He doesn’t come up to you and go, ‘Coach, you know something? I didn’t drink my Muscle Milk this morning, so I don’t know if I’m gonna be really good tonight. I lost my foam roller, and I don’t know if I can roll out my hamstrings.’ ”

Thanks to Robbins’ RBI-triple, No. 14 UL – seeded first in the Regional – moved into a winner’s-bracket game against Arizona that originally was scheduled for Saturday night but later was postponed until Sunday because of inclement weather.

It’s the latest entry in a productive season that saw Robbins produce 33 RBI (fourth-highest among Cajun leaders) and a team-high nine homers heading into the Regional.

Robbins – a utilityman man who has settled in at third base after also starting six games at shortstop and eight in centerfield earlier this season – was hitting .336 back in mid-April.

That average slipped to .291 going into the Regional, which might factor into Friday’s triple being particularly special.

It sure seemed that way as Robbins arrived at third with a wide smile and plenty of extra emotion.

The hit – which ended with him facing the Cajun dugout, one knee on the bag at third, fists squeezed right, mouth wide open – is not one Robbins will forget anytime soon.

“I got to share it with the fans, and I got to share it with the team,” he said. “It was a big spot for us.”

Robbins came to UL as a shortstop, but with star Blake Trahan – now in the Cincinnati Reds organization – owning that spot he wasn’t going to be playing there anytime soon.

So Robbins bounced around the infield and played in 18 games as a true freshman in 2013, then was limited by injury to just three games in 2014 – which should get him a fifth season of eligibility next year.

Joe Robbins slides into home as UL beats Princeton

Joe Robbins slides into home as UL beats Princeton in the first round of the NCAA Regional Tournament at Tigue Moore Field. (Photo: SCOTT CLAUSE/THE ADVERTISER)

In 2015, Trahan’s last with the Cajuns, Robbins played in 57 games, making 42 starts, some at third and some in the outfield, as UL made it to its third straight NCAA Regional and second straight Super Regional.

Robbins had 57 starts this year after the Princeton game, which saw him in a tough spot as he walked to the plate in the eighth.

He was 0-for-3 at the time, and it was uncertain whether the Cajuns or Tigers would break first.

“I was overzealous (earlier), too aggressive on some of the pitches,” said Robbins, who has made some showstopping plays with his glove at third this season. “Kind of got behind in the count a lot of the time.

“But you’ve just got to keep grinding, you’ve got to keep working hard and you’ve got to stay to an approach.”

That last line seemingly sums up Robbins’ night Friday.

But it also can apply to his whole 2016 season and – for that matter – that of the 42-19 Cajuns, who started slow but had 11 straight wins after finishing off Princeton.

“Getting toward the end (of Friday’s game),” Robbins said, “I knew I had to come up big for my team, because my first three at-bats weren’t up to par for myself or for the team.

“So coming up and getting that triple,” he added, “was big.”

So too, Robichaux believes, is allowing mind to trump matter, especially when it comes to issues like the wrist.

Sometimes, the Cajun coach suggested, those with a high pain threshold do have to be saved from themselves.

Sometimes as well, though, certain players can play through and, in extreme cases, help to define a season.

Robbins fits that latter category, especially after he helped UL sail through the recent Sun Belt Conference Tournament in San Marcos, Texas, with a 4-0 record for the Cajuns’ third straight tourney title.

During UL’s third game in San Marcos, a 17-10 win over Arkansas State in which the Cajuns overcame a six-run deficit from the first inning, Robbins produced a couple of hits.

But he was seen wincing on at least one swing that day.

“His wrist will give him some trouble from time-to-time a little bit,” Robichaux said afterward, “especially on certain pitches where he’ll swing through a certain pitch.”

A check-swing might prove excruciating.


“He’s one-hundred percent for defense,” Robichaux said. “They’re managing the pain, giving him some anti-inflammatories and wrapping him up.”

Tape it; good to go.

Lost foam roller? Spilled Muscle Milk?

Robbins is not the type to cry over either.

“I’ve played with those kind of guys too,” Robichaux said. “They have to have the stars aligned for them to be successful. The great ones don’t. They’ll go throw down with what they have.”