• 70°

Cajuns keep on Ragin’

The University of Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns intentionally walked the potential go-ahead run in the top of the ninth inning against No. 1 Middle Tennessee Thursday evening in the 2009 Sun Belt Conference Baseball Championship at Riddle-Pace Field, but escaped with a 5-4 victory.

Bryce Brentz, the 2009 Sun Belt Player of the Year stepped to the plate with runners on second and third, one out and his team trailing 5-3. ULL head coach Tony Robichaux intentionally walked Brentz to put the potential winning run on first base.

“That guy is just too good,” Robichaux said. “I know it is against baseball, but this is college baseball and I can’t go get a guy making $30 million to come out of the pen and get the next hitter out. So I wasn’t going to let him beat us. I know we took a chance right there if the ball gets in a gap somewhere, but we were fortunate enough to get out of it.”

Robichaux’s plan worked, as MTSU’s Blake McDade took a high 0-2 pitch deep to center field to bring in Rawley Bishop with a sacrifice fly that cut the lead to 5-4, but pinch hitter Ben Darlington grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the game.

Justin Robichaux gave No. 5 Louisiana (27-28-1) seven strong innings on the mound. He allowed one run on nine hits, struck out three and walked one for the win.

“This felt really good because those guys are really good,” Justin Robichaux said.

The Louisiana defense had Robichaux’s back all night, turning four double plays.

“Defense is a big part of what I do,” Robichaux said. “I am trying to get people to roll over and the defense came up big for me

The Ragin’ Cajuns jumped out to an early lead off the bat of right fielder Les Smith. Smith set the tone early with a bomb over the monster in right field for a 1-0 ULL lead.

“We wanted to hit our opponent in the face first and I think that is what I did,” Smith said. “I am glad the good Lord blessed me with that ball right there and I think that set the tempo and got our team going. It proved to be a crucial run and we had good defense and great pitching.”

ULL added to the lead in the third inning with two outs in the inning. Kyle Olasin walked, stole second and scored on a Alex Fuselier single to left field for the 2-0 advantage.

Blake McDade singled home Bryce Brentz from first base to put the Blue Raiders (39-16) on the board in the top of the fourth and cut the ULL lead to 2-1.

The teams battled the rest of the night, but MTSU couldn’t pull it out.

Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee that will be play today at 9 a.m. and Louisiana will face the winner of that game at 4 p.m. If Louisiana wins they move into the championship game, but if they lose the two teams will play Saturday.

Click here for a photo gallery of Thursday’s action