June 4, 2010

Courtesy La.-Lafayette Athletics

AUSTIN, Texas- Chad Keefer delivered a two-out RBI single to right field in the top of the eighth to plate Jordan Poirrier with the only run of Louisiana's 1-0 win over Rice in the opener of the Austin Regional Friday afternoon at Disch-Falk Field in Austin, Texas.

Zach Osborne retired six of the final seven Owls' hitters he faced to capture only the second complete game shutout in NCAA Championship play by a Cajuns pitcher and first since June 2002 when Andy Gros shutout LSU.

"It was definitely the biggest game of my life," Osborne said. "Earlier this year, I threw a one-game shutout (vs. Troy), but that does not compare to this."

Osborne scattered five hits, struck out four and held the Owls to a 1-for-10 showing with runners on base. He forced a pair of groundouts and picked up a bases loaded strikeout the only three times Rice (38-22) had runners in scoring position.

"We had not thrown a shutout in NCAA postseason play since June of 2002," head coach Tony Robichaux remarked. "It would not be remarkable for him to throw a shutout, but to come in here and just believe that we are going to do that against a good hitting Rice team, it's just what he does."

Louisiana (38-20) advances to the winner's bracket final of the Austin Regional to face either Texas or Rider at 6:30 p.m., on Saturday. A win then and the Cajuns would advance to the regional championship game.

Keefer's heroics may not have been possible had Rice left fielder Michael Fuda not attempted to make a diving catch on a Kyle Olasin base hit into the left center gap. Because Fuda dove, and missed, Olasin was able to move up to second base putting him in scoring position.

Rice chose to intentionally walk Jordan Poirrier and because of that when Jared Rogers caught Olasin attempting to steal third base, Poirrier was able to move up to second base and UL still had a runner in scoring position for Keefer.

The aforementioned sequence was the first mistake made by either team that made the difference in an outstanding pitchers duel.

Rogers held the Cajuns to seven hits over eight innings and held his own keeping UL to just 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

Louisiana snapped a five-game losing streak to Rice and the shutout marked the 19th time this season the Cajuns held an opponent to two runs or fewer.

"Today was the epitome of the kind of club we are," Robichaux said. "We want to have good pitching, play good defense, and try and have timely hitting. Today was the epitome of that."

Osborne and Rogers were locked in through the first four innings. Rogers only faced two over the minimum and Osborne was at three over the minimum.

The offenses began to get traffic starting in the fifth, but Osborne and Rogers clamped down and held the scoreless tie.

UL collected back-to-back, one-out base hits in the fifth and sixth innings, but a double play ball from Rogers finished off the Cajuns in the fifth and a fly out and ground out concluded the sixth.

A pair of hit by pitches and a walk put Osborne in a jam in the sixth and would escape trouble by striking out Rathjen with the bases loaded.

Back-to-back singles by Steven Sultzbaugh and Chad Mozingo gave the Owls runners on the corners with two outs in the seventh. Osborne snagged a grounder by Jimmy Comerota to end the final threat he would face.