La.-Lafayette wins first Sun Belt tournament championship since 1998
MOBILE, Ala. -- Sophomore Blake Trahan's homer in the seventh lifted the top-seeded and second-ranked Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns baseball team to 6-5 victory against Texas-Arlington in the 2014 Sun Belt Conference tournament championship game on Sunday afternoon at Stanky Field.
The tournament title is the second in program history and first since 1998. The Cajuns (53-7) set a new Sun Belt record for wins in a season, breaking the previous record of 52 set by South Florida in 1986.
The win also gives the Ragin' Cajuns an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament as the program will make its second consecutive appearance in the tournament riding the nation's longest win streak at 10 games.
"We have had to win many different ways this season," head coach Tony Robichaux said. "Today was a one-run game, and we didn't get spooked. We were able to win that game, and that's what I like about this team. They can win many different ways. I'm proud of our team for continuing to grind out another championship."
Trahan was named the most outstanding player in the tournament after going 1-for-2 in the championship game with a home run, walk and two RBI. Trahan is the third Cajuns player to earn the honor joining B.J. Ryan in 1998 and Papo Ramos in 1992.
Second baseman Jace Conrad had a team-best two hits and scored joining outfielder Caleb Adams and reliever Matt Plitt on the all-tournament team.
Freshman Chris Charpentier was outstanding in relief holding the Mavericks (33-26) to two runs on four hits in a career-best five innings of work.
"We knew UT Arlington could hit; they were hot," Robichaux said. "Charpentier came in and really did a great job for us. Our bullpen has really done a nice job over the last three weeks. We are going to need it to be able to make this run. The hitters did a great job grinding it out, and we played good defense. Now we'll get ready to plow forward."
Junior Martin Anderson earned his second victory coming into the game in the seventh and retired both batters that he faced, while Seth Harrison notched his second save of the year after getting the last two outs to close out the contest.
Reliever Chase Weaver of UT Arlington was tabbed with the loss after giving up one run on one hit in 4.1 innings to fall to 4-3.
The Mavericks jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top first on sac fly to right center by Matt Shortall scoring Darien McLemore from third. McLemore singled up the middle with one out and then moved to third on a single by Ryan Bottger.
UTA added two more runs in the top of the second on back-to-back solo home runs to left by Levi Scott and Eric Tate to make the score 3-0.
The Cajuns got on the board in the bottom half of the second as Trahan drew a bases loaded walk to cut the lead to 3-1. In the next at bat, Leonards singled up the middle to plate two runs and tie the game at 3-all.
Louisiana went in front in the bottom of the third on a triple to left center that scored Jace Conrad from first. Conrad singled to lead off the inning. Greg Davis brought home the second run of the inning on a sac fly to center scoring Adams from third to make the score 5-3.
The best scoring opportunity for either team in the middle innings came in the top of the fifth when the Mavs loaded the bases with two outs. Charpentier settled down to get Justin Copeland to fly out to shallow center before Brandon McCall flied out to left to end the threat.
After the three scoreless innings, Bottger evened the contest for the second time with a two-run homer to center. The home run was the seventh of the season for Bottger.
Trahan answered for the Cajuns in the bottom half of the seventh crushing the first pitch he saw off of the scoreboard in left to put Louisiana back in front for good. The homer was Trahan's fourth of the season.
Riley Cooper, Plitt and Harrison combined to throw two scoreless innings to close out the game.