Rabalais: Don't blink with Cajuns, Rebels on the brink in Monday night's game

LAFAYETTE — All even.

A win for the Ragin’ Cajuns on Saturday night, 9-5.

An equalizer for the Rebels on Sunday night, 5-2.

A ghastly error in center field for each.

And so now Louisiana-Lafayette and Ole Miss have pushed each other to the brink.

One game, winner take all.

Someone will make a trip of a lifetime to the College World Series.

Someone else will have an offseason, maybe a lifetime, of bitter regrets to deal with.

After a victory in Saturday’s Game 1 of the super regional, a game in which the Cajuns fairly well cruised after falling behind 3-0 early, UL-Lafayette found itself locked in a desperate pitcher’s duel this time around.

A pair of one-time LSU pitchers — the Cajuns’ Carson Baranik and the Rebels’ Christian Trent — came into the game with 20 wins and only one loss between them.

They pitched like it for most of the night. Trent was left-handed dynamite, and Baranik tip-toed around enough trouble to keep himself and the Cajuns in the game.

Ole Miss broke in front early for the second straight night with a run in the bottom of the first inning.

The Cajuns were blanked until the top of the fifth (the host team has to be the visiting team in Game 2 — don’t get me started).

Then they squeezed a run through one of those cracks that many a UL-Lafayette opponent has come to regret this season.

With two outs, Seth Harrison hit a sharp grounder to second. Preston Overbey underplayed the ball with a bobble and a weak throw — a good one of either would have gotten Harrison — but the error was committed.

Dylan Butler, the No. 8 hitter, then laced a double into the left-field corner. Harrison rounded second, rounded third and was sent home on what looked like a suicide mission by third-base coach Matt Deggs.

The throw was spot-on, and Harrison couldn’t have beaten it if he were Usain Bolt.

His only hope was to knock the ball loose from catcher Will Allen.

Holy Geena Davis if that isn’t what happened.

Two errors in the inning, and the Cajuns had it tied up 1-1.

Overbey atoned for his earlier error in the seventh with a towering solo home run to restore Ole Miss’ lead at 2-1. But UL-Lafayette fired right back with a huge two-out single from Blake Trahan to reknot the score 2-2.

Then divine intervention handed a huge gift to the Rebels.

Ole Miss catcher Will Allen lofted a fly ball to right-center.

Harrison, UL-Lafayette’s center fielder, ranged far to his left but dropped the ball, allowing Auston Bousfield to come home with a run for a 3-2 Rebels lead.

Two more runs came home, but the one was all the damage Ole Miss needed to inflict.

It was a leveling of the artificial turf in M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field by the baseball gods for what happened Saturday night. And it was a cruel form of sporting justice for both Harrison and Bousfield.

With two outs in the second inning in Game 1, Harrison launched a high fly ball to short center field that Bousfield dropped. That allowed Tyler Girouard to score and gave UL-Lafayette a big booster shot of momentum after they fell behind the Rebels 3-0 in the top of the second.

Now it all comes down to this.

One game for Omaha, and something significant has got to give.

If Ole Miss wins, it will break a 42-year CWS drought (some say curse) for the Rebels.

But to do that, UL-Lafayette (58-9) will have to lose back-to-back games for the first time this season.

It’s all even. The big hits. The clutch pitching performances.The defensive gaffes.

Someone is going to overcome it all.

Someone else is going to be crushed.

Tell me there’s better reality TV than sports?

Not here. Not Monday night.

Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter: @RabalaisAdv.