ULL's Tyler Girouard makes his way to home plate Saturday as his team celebrates the three-run home run. (Kirck Meche / Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Monday, June 09, 2014 1:57 PM
LAFAYETTE — Not so fast.
A team that has lived on the edge of extinction since its first game of these NCAA playoffs finds itself right back where it stated, one loss from elimination.
It seems a fitting place for these Ragin’ Cajuns, who have lived on the edge all season. It also seems like they don’t mind it either.
In fact, they might even relish the fact.
For them pressure is nothing. While chaos swirls all around, these guys have found calm playing their game.
“The unique thing is nothing really changes for us,” said Cajun head coach Tony Robichaux. “We’re gonna try to pitch, play defense and get timely hitting. That’s what we do.”
It has worked for them all season, but not last night.
With all the pressure on Ole Miss, it was ULL which cracked.
A 3-run bottom of the eighth inning lifted the Rebels to a 5-2 victory and evened this super regional at one game apiece.
It also set up tonight’s showdown at sundown.
Well, actually a little before sundown it will get started, but that’s nitpicking.
Fact is, for the fifth time in the last 10 days, Louisiana-Lafayette will be playing a game to keep its season alive.
Obviously, the Cajuns are 4-0 in this situation and seem to thrive on it.
Now the only thing that matters, despite the 58 wins and all those fans, is what happens tonight.
It doesn’t even matter how we got to this point, but it will be that eighth inning the Cajuns must forget.
A dropped fly ball in center by Seth Harrison will be remembered as doing the real damage.
It came just moments after Kinder’s Blake Trahan tied the game at 2-2 with his third single of the night.
Trahan has been extra special in this postseason, going 20-for-36 in the seven games. That’s an eye-popping .556 with 11 runs batted in.
He has proven himself to be every bit as good a shortstop as LSU All-American Alex Bregman, who gets more attention from the national media.
Both are just sophomores, but Trahan’s play this postseason may just get him out of the shadows of Bregman, at least for a little while.
So might the Cajuns escape those same shadows cast from the powerhouse in Baton Rouge.
Of course that’s only if they can forget about the last few moments of last night’s game, when a possible victory was snatched from their grips.
After Trahan got his big hit in the top of the eighth, the 4,294 inside the Tigue, and at least that many outside it, sang and danced as if the Cajuns were on their way to Omaha.
It seemed the entire town of Lafayette was ready to burst, having followed this team all spring and waiting 14 years for this moment.
For those folks it was more than just a game, more than just a chance to celebrate. It was a chance to have ULL back on the map of college sports.
It was a sense of pride in the team they called their own.
But as the even drew late and to a close, there was no joy in Lafayette.
The Rebels had ruined the show.
So with their 5-game winning streak snapped, and their joyous celebration put on hold they hope, the Cajuns get ready for what is clearly the biggest game of the year.
It’s a winner-take-all battle with one team getting ready to book a trip to Omaha and the other starting summer vacation.
It is only fitting that in order to get where they want to go these Cajuns will have to use every ounce of energy they have, and possibly every pitcher too.
It’s also just as fitting their fans will be there with them, ready for anything.
If nothing else, it gives them one more reason to throw a party.
And as we have noted before, Cajun fans love a good party.
Now they are hoping for happy endings as well.
Jim Gazzolo is managing sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org