Red hot Ragin’ Cajuns bring lofty ranking to Troy this weekend

Published 10:04 pm Thursday, April 3, 2014

It doesn’t matter which college baseball poll you want to use. The end result is UL-Lafayette is one of the best teams in the nation.

The Ragin’ Cajuns rank anywhere from second to sixth in the four baseball polls, the National Collegiate Baseball Writers, the USA Today Coaches Poll, Collegiate Baseball and Baseball America, used by the NCAA.

ULL is the highest ranked team to ever play at Riddle-Pace Field, surpassing the 1998 Alabama Crimson Tide, who was ranked 11th.

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Troy head coach Bobby Pierce knows what ranked baseball teams possess, as his Trojans climbed the polls just a season ago.

“Lafayette is a very, very good baseball team,” said Pierce. “The have lots of experience at every position. They can pitch well, they can swing the bat well and they play the field well. Add all of those up, and you get a very good team deserving to be ranked where they are.”

Friday’s game will pit two of the best pitchers in the Sun Belt Conference, and perhaps the nation, head-to-head.

Troy will hand the ball to its usual Friday starter, Tanner Hicks, while ULL will go with Austin Robichaux.

Robichaux, the son of Ragin’ Cajuns head coach Tony Robichaux, is 4-2 on the season with a 2.92 ERA and 47 strikeouts.

Hicks is 2-4, with a 3.3 ERA and 44 strikeouts.

Even though he will be managing the game from the third base dugout, Pierce said he will be sure to take in the competition between the two talented pitchers.

“I am at a stage in my career when I can really enjoy the competition on the field,” said Pierce. “Robichaux is a great pitcher, as is Tanner. They will both be on their game I’m sure. Saturday’s game with Baranik for them and (Shane) McCain for us will be just as good.”

On Sunday, Ben Tidwell will get the start for Troy and Cody Boutte will toss for the Ragin’ Cajuns.

Troy enters the series fresh off a 7-2 win over in-state rival UAB on Tuesday. The Trojans pounded out 13 hits, and got breakout days from newcomers Chase Davidson and Adam Tewksbury.

Davidson pitched six scoreless innings allowing just one hit and striking out four, while Tewksbury went 3-for-4 at the plate with a triple and three RBIs.

Pierce feels they only way Troy can claw its way back in the Sun Belt title hunt is two win each of the next two series.

“It is a must win for us this weekend, and the next,” said Pierce. “If we want to entertain winning this conference title, it all starts now. We play the new two series at home, and our guys like to play at home and like to play in big games.”

The series begins with a 6 P.m. first pitch on Friday, while Saturday’s game is set for a 3 P.m. start and will be televises on CSS.

Sunday’s matinee will begin at 1 p.m.

“I am really looking forward to seeing our guys compete as a team this weekend,” Pierce said. “We have inexperienced guys, but are playing together. We have to compete every pitch, every inning and every game. If we can do that, we have a shot to win this series against a very talented ULL team.”