Baseball: View From The Bench With Scott Brazda – No trip to College World Series this time
By Scott Brazda and Steve Landry, Acadiana Gazette, June 11, 2014
LAFAYETTE – Great defense by the Ole Miss Rebels and lack of
clutch hitting by the #1 UL Lafayette Cajuns – and iffy pitching from
them in this hosted Super Regional – resulted in a 10-4 loss at Tigue
Moore Field in the third game of a three-game series.
That means the Cajuns are not going to the World Series.
This past Monday, the season ended for what was probably the
best team in college baseball. But, as they say, that’s why you play
They won the first game. They lost the second game on Sunday.
Then Monday came and the sold-out crowd went home disappointed
but it should be noted that as the ninth inning ended some UL fans
were clapping for the opponents that are now headed to the Omaha
for the College World Series.
But they were mostly clapping a “thank you” to the Cajuns.
The Cajuns had not been to the World Series since 2000. For Ole
Miss, it’s been 42 years.
Now, the Rebels will play next weekend with two four-team brackets
in a double elimination tourney. The winners of each bracket play
a best-of-three for the title.
The Cajuns, meanwhile, are done for 2014, taking a slew of seniors
As 96.5’s sports guru Jay Walker said: “It ends suddenly.” It’s been
101 wins over two years for UL’s baseball program. Walker (see PG.
5-A for his comments on another subject) said, post-game, that a 58-
10 team is something to be proud of.
About 4,300 in mostly red attire attended and few left early, but
the die-hards stayed mostly to thank the team for the great year.
“The fans were great tonight, even in the ninth inning,” Walker
said on his radio show. “I’m proud to be a part of the Cajun Nation
He said: “This is a ball team we’ll never forget.”
Walker, in his final thoughts on the radio, said: “Has there ever
been a better time to be a Cajun fan?”
Let’s tick off that assessment, one by one:
• In the fall the Cajuns won their third New Orleans Bowl.
• Soccer had its best season in history.
• The UL volleyball team had the most wins in almost 20 years.
• In the winter, UL women’s basketball had the best year since
• The UL men’s basketball team won the Sun Belt Conference and
qualified for the NCAA Tournament for March Madness.
• The UL men’s tennis team
won a championship in the
Spring and going to the
• The women’s softball team
making it to the CWS in
“I don’t know if you’re ever
going to see very many baseball
teams in America that are going
to be able to say they averaged
over 50 wins over a two-year period,
but the Cajuns will be able
to say it,” Walker said.
And So It Ends … by Scott
And so it ends… ends in a way
not the least bit reflective of just
how amazing a season this was.
But the big-time college baseball
atmosphere was right here
in Acadiana, and the drama was
there… until the final inning.
NCAA Super Regional, Game
The Ragin’ Cajuns and Ole
Miss Rebels all tied up at
one game apiece.
Series on the line.
For the third
straight night, UL’s
Tigue Moore Field
and the adjacent Cajun
Field parking lot
took on a tailgating,
Fans barbecuing, kids tossing
balls around, tents, chairs
and TVs at the ready. And for
the folks not able to get into The
Tigue, the UL Athletic department
and some communityminded
sponsors had brought in
some big, big screens… so those
not in the game ….were almost
inside, yet still part of the game.
Inside the ballpark, the teams
spent the first couple innings
feeling each other out, and put
up zeroes; that is, until the bottom
of the third, when Notre
Dame High product Ryan Leonards
notched the first of his three
hits, and laced a double to center
field. Tyler Girouard’s sacrifice
fly brought Leonards home, and
the Cajuns took the first step to
Omaha, via a 1-0 lead.
But then Mother Nature had
her say. The big showers that
pelted Evangeline Parish in the
late afternoon visited Lafayette
Parish around 7 p.m., and seemed
to give the Rebels a bit of a boost
in the top of the fourth. Double.
Homer. Homer. Whether it was
the rain, or the Ole Miss hitters,
no matter: Cajuns hurler Cody
Boutte dug himself a hole and
the Cajuns trailed 3-1.
However, the precipitation apparently
had the same effect on
the Cajun hitters. Compton was
hit by a pitch. Butler doubled.
Strentz slapped an rbi grounder
to third, and Leonards zinged another
double. Cajuns and Rebels
were dead even, 3-3 after four.
That’s when it became a battle
of the bullpens.
Once Boutte walked the first
batter of the fifth, Tony Robichaux
went to his bullpen.
Again. And again. And again.
First Hicks, then Griffith, then
Plitt. Robichaux was all in, fully
grasping the ‘there’s no tomorrow’
message of the game. Four
pitchers in the fifth, but a Rebel
run in to put Ole Miss up 4-3.
The weird thing was that the
way the Rebs got that fourth run
(and take a lead they would never
relinquish) was… just plain
weird. And very un-Cajunslike.
Rebel hit by pitch. Then a
wild pitch. Then a walk. Then a
passed ball. Then another walk.
It was like the baseball gods
were saying to the UL faithful,
“O.K., we gave you 67 games
where this kind of stuff didn’t
happen; unfortunately, now your
number’s come up.”
Ole Miss touched Plitt with a
two-out walk and double to go
up 5-3 in the sixth, but with the
fans turning up the volume on
the “Ragin’!! Cajuns!! Ragin’!!
Cajuns!!” cheer, and seemingly
willing the team to regain its
mojo, the Cajuns proved they
weren’t quite ready to go quietly
into the night.
A Rebel error, allowing Girouard
to get on, was followed
by an Adams walk, which set
the stage for potential heroics
by Seth Harrison. Harrison
smacked a double down the left
field line, which in turn gave the
Cajuns hope…yet dashed them at
the very same time.
Harrison’s double into the
corner sent Girouard scurrying
home to make it 5-4, and, with
the ball ricocheting a bit, the call
was made to send Adams home
as well. But a perfect throw,
and a perfect block of the plate
by Ole Miss catcher Will Allen
kept Adams from touching home
with his hand, and subsequently,
kept the Cajuns from knotting
Still, it was a one-run game
again… a one-run deficit with
two at-bats to go in front of the
home crowd…and a one-run
deficit for a team that hadn’t lost
back-to-back games all season.
Sure, Ole Miss was really good,
with a really good pitching
staff, but the Cajuns and their
karma seemed to be in place,
seemed to be ready to zoom UL
to its second World Series appearance.
Funny thing about karma,
though; seems we often forget
that the other team may have
some of that magical stuff as
A sac fly, or sac liner off Harrison,
built the Rebs’ lead back
up to two, 6-4 in the top of the
eighth, and that one… that extra
run… seemed to sap the spirit of
the crowd. A few started leaving,
only to come scurrying back
in when Leonards delivered his
third hit, and brought Jace
Conrad to the plate with
the tying run. It was
the final gasp, and
Conrad had delivered
so many times
But not this time.
Conrad lifted a
lazy fly to center for
the inning’s third out,
and the Cajuns moved
into the ninth down by
two, and with no room for
The final Ole Miss at-bat of
the night was a mess…for the
Cajuns. A batter hit, then a single,
then the bases loaded with
no outs. Fans were hunched
over, praying and hoping and
wishing for the miracle… that
didn’t come. The Rebels cleared
the bases via a liner into the
right field corner, and when the
dust settled, Ole Miss had put
the game away with a 10-4 lead.
And that did it. UL did finally
go quietly into the night—
three up, three down to end the
game—but then, something
truly amazing happened. The
Cajuns faithful (and many had
stayed through the ugly ninth)
stayed in the stands, stood up
and cheered. They cheered and
clapped and whistled….and said,
That’s “thank you” to the 2014
Ragin’ Cajuns, a mid-major
team from the Sun Belt Conference
that won 58 games and was
ranked number one— NUMBER
ONE—for a good part of
the season. And it all happened
right here, right here in little ol’
The College World Series was
not to be, and for many, that’s a
tough pill to swallow.
But coming up one win short
doesn’t make this season any
We will speak of this season
for years to come. It was certainly…
one for the ages.