Cajuns’ regional dogpile wasn’t quite perfect, but players were happy nonetheless
LAFAYETTE — The dogpile following Louisiana-Lafayette’s regional-clinching win over Mississippi State on Monday night was a disappointment, and coach Tony Robichaux took responsibility for that Wednesday.
Only a small group of Ragin’ Cajuns wound up in a small pile of bodies near second base after relief pitcher Matt Plitt recorded the final strikeout in the 5-3 victory over the Bulldogs.
“I hollered, ‘Go dogpile,’ so they would know if they wanted to, they could,” Robichaux said. “Two or three of them a couple of seats down from me thought I said, ‘Don’t dog-pile.’
“So I was glad some of them were like usual and ignored the coach and didn’t listen to him and went and did it — but not enough of them. They waited to see who wasn’t going to break ranks.”
Added junior catcher Michael Strentz: “That was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever been a part of. I give props to the head coach ... he sticks with us, even if we’re not hitting or something, he’s right there behind us knowing we can get it done. But we also knew we still have more games to play.”
Cajun freshman relief pitcher Reagan Bazar was selected to the Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America team Wednesday by Collegiate Baseball magazine, the fourth UL-Lafayette player to earn that honor.
The Salado, Texas, native is 4-0 with six saves and a 2.32 ERA in 24 appearances. He had 19 strikeouts in 31 innings, and opponents hit .221 against him. The 6-foot-7, 230-pound Bazar made an impact on Cajuns fans in his first appearance, throwing the final inning of a 13-0 win over Eastern Illinois and hitting 100 mph on the radar gun at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field.
“He’s the future of this program,” said Robichaux, who has already penciled Bazar into a probable starter role for next season. “He’s worked very hard to be the player that he is today. He’s going to have an enormous future.”
Bazar did not see action in the regional round, but Robichaux said he wouldn’t hesitate to insert the right-hander into this weekend’s super regional series against Ole Miss.
“We’ve got a guy throwing 95 and 96 that we went two weekends and didn’t even use,” he said. “Every Monday and Tuesday, everybody that hasn’t thrown, we bring them back and pitch them in controlled instrasquads. That helps us trust them, and he threw very well yesterday.
“I told him yesterday to be patient and make sure you’re ready. We’re putting the burden on some older arms, and next year you’re going to be the guy that we’re going to be putting stuff on your shoulders. A lot of times we’ll check late in the game to see what the umpire’s strike zone is, but I wouldn’t be afraid to use him at all.”
Robichaux said Wednesday that regular series-opening starter Austin Robichaux (7-3, 2.83) would get the start in Saturday’s opener against Ole Miss. The junior right-hander took a tough 1-0 loss in last Friday’s Regional opener against Jackson State, allowing only four hits and fanning six.
Junior right-hander Carson Baranik (11-1, 327), the Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year, and senior left-hander Cody Boutte (9-0, 3.09) have started the second and third games of virtually every conference series this year. Robichaux said that will likely stay the same, especially since he said Ole Miss is equally effective against left- and right-handed pitching.
“They’re just a good-hitting ballclub. I don’t know if they have a weakness left-versus-right,” Tony Robichaux said. “I don’t think we’ll stray from what we’ve done all year. We’ve had Austin out of the gate, Baranik’s been very good behind him and Boutte’s been exceptional behind him. I don’t see us straying from that unless we saw some disparity in their splits, but I don’t see anything that warrants us changing anything like we did with San Diego State and Mississippi State.”
Baranik threw UL-Lafayette’s second regional game, a 9-2 win over SDSU, but Boutte was held back from the Cajuns’ third game against Jackson State and started the first championship game against MSU, a 14-8 win.
Attendance for the seven regional games at Moore Field totaled 25,442, an average of 3,634 fans per game in a park that has a capacity of 3,755. The Lafayette regional ranked fifth among the 16 regional sites in total attendance. The top mark was at the Oxford regional, where the Cajuns’ super regional foe drew 49,314. The Baton Rouge regional ranked second at 45,285.
During the regular season, UL-Lafayette’s average attendance was 3,789, good enough for 10th nationally according to a list compiled by Wichita State’s media relations department. LSU led the nation once again with a 10,880 average.