ULL beats Mississippi State, advances to Super Regional
Having to battle their way through the losers bracket, the top-ranked Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns baseball team never trailed in a winner-take-all championship game at the Lafayette Regional Monday, holding on to win 5-3 against Mississippi State to advance to the Lafayette Super Regional.
The 57 wins moves Louisiana-Lafayette within three of the NCAA record for wins in a season since the 56-game regular season was implemented in 1992. Florida State holds the record with 60 wins in 2002.
First-Team All-American Jace Conrad was named the Lafayette Regional Most Outstanding Player after going 11-for-23 with 10 RBIs and scored five runs. The junior posted a team-best two hits in the game with an RBI and scored twice.
Conrad was joined by teammates Blake Trahan, Ryan Leonards, Seth Harrison and Michael Strentz on the 2014 Lafayette Regional All-Tournament Team.
“I give a lot of credit to Mississippi State. They were a tough ball club,” ULL head coach Tony Robichaux said in a news release. “The pitching that we faced was outstanding. We were going to have to be really good, our approach at the plate was going to have to be really good, and it was. I give credit to our fans, too, because that’s critical again, having the adrenaline that they gave us for this weekend has been phenomenal. We did a great job tonight. Again, credit to our opponent; that was a very good baseball team.”
The Cajuns (57-8) will host Ole Miss (43-18), the winner of the Oxford Regional, this weekend at “The Tigue.” All games will be on ESPN3. The super regional opener is set for a 7 p.m. start Saturday, while the second game will be played at 8 p.m. Sunday. If necessary, a third game in the best, two-out-of-three series will be played Monday at 6 p.m.
This is the Ragin’ Cajuns first time to host a super regional and the program’s third appearance overall (first since 2000).
In Monday’s contest, senior Ryan Wilson was outstanding in the start, limiting Mississippi State (39-24) to three runs on four hits in 6.2 innings to earn his sixth win of the year.
Matt Plitt notched his fifth save of the season after coming into the contest in the seventh and throwing 2.1 scoreless innings with four strikeouts and two walks.
“Ryan went out and pitched a great game for us and gave us everything he had” Robichaux said. “Matt has been one of the hottest guys out of our bullpen for the last 30 days, and to come out there and get those big outs like he did was just huge.”
Mississippi State’s Lucas Laster (0-1) surrendered three runs on three hits with three walks in 2.2 innings.
Conrad gave the Cajuns a 1-0 lead in the top of the third on a two-out single through the right side of the infield to score Strentz from second. Strentz had reached on a one-out walk.
After the Ragin’ Cajuns loaded the bases later in the inning, Conrad came in to score on a wild pitch by reliever Jacob Lindgren.
Following a walk to Caleb Adams, Trahan scored on another wild pitch to make the score 3-0.
Strentz extended the lead to 4-0 in the top of the fourth as he perfectly executed a suicide squeeze to score Seth Harrison from third.
Mississippi State broke into the scoring column in the bottom of the fourth on a sacrifice fly to right by Wes Rea, bringing home C.T. Bradford from third to cut the Louisiana-Lafayette lead to 4-1. Bradford singled to start the inning.
The Bulldogs cut the Cajuns lead to one run in the bottom of the seventh. With two outs and two on, Bradford singled to left-center to bring home Matthew Britton.
In the next at bat, Brad Pirtle sent an RBI single through the right side of the infield to cut the Ragin’ Cajuns advantage to 4-3.
Trahan gave Louisiana-Lafayette an insurance run in the top of the ninth, singling in Conrad from second. Conrad was hit by a pitch with two outs and then stole second for his team-leading 22nd steal of the season.
Plitt retired all three batters he faced in the ninth to close out the contest and give the Cajuns the Lafayette Regional title.