Stefan Trosclair's 12th-inning slam boosts La.-Lafayette to Sun Belt title
TROY, Ala. -- Junior second baseman Stefan Trosclair drove in five runs and came through with the game-winning, two-out grand slam in the top of the 12th to lift the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns to a 5-1 victory against South Alabama in the 2015 Sun Belt Conference tournament championship game on Sunday at Riddle-Pace Field.
The tournament championship is the second in a row for the Cajuns (39-21) and third in program history. Louisiana becomes only the second program to win back-to-back titles in Sun Belt history, joining the Jaguars (37-20) who won titles in 2000 and '01.
The Ragin' Cajuns are also first team since FIU in 2010 to lose their opening game of the tournament and come back to win the title as the squad posted five consecutive victories after dropping the opener to Texas State.
The tournament championship marks the third consecutive season that the Cajuns will advance to the NCAA regionals. Louisiana has accomplished that feat only two other times in program history, 1990-92 and 1997-2000.
"We fought a very gritty team. I think we are the two best teams in the conference this year and it played out that way," head coach Tony Robichaux said. "There's really only way you are going to try and beat them since they have such great pitching. You've got to try and answer them with pitching and defense, and we were able to do that. I'm proud of our ball club, not just because of the wins, but because of how they responded from that first game loss."
Trosclair, the Sun Belt Tournament Most Outstanding Player, was one of three Cajuns to post a multi-hit effort in the contest going 2-for-3 with a walk, home run and five RBI. Blake Trahan and Kyle Clement also had a pair of hits with Clement scoring a game-high two runs.
Freshman left-hander Gunner Leger was outstanding in the start holding the league's top offense to one run on five hits in eight innings in a no decision. Leger struck out four and walked just two after making his second start of the tournament on just three days of rest.
Senior right-hander Greg Milhorn (4-1) picked up the victory tossing four scoreless innings in relief. Milhorn surrendered just one hit and struck out one facing just one over the minimum in the outing.
The Cajuns defense came up with several big plays in the contest as they turned a season-high three double plays in the game.
"Gunner did a great job today on three days rest, gutting it out for us and keeping the game close, because if you get to behind too much on those arms you are going to be finished," Robichaux added. "They put us in a position where Trosclair got the barrel on top of the ball. That guy is throwing very hard. If you can put leverage on him, the ball is going to jump. Stefan put some good leverage on him and got the ball out of the ballpark."
Reliever Ben Taylor (6-3), a first-team all-Sun Belt selection, was saddled with the loss after giving up four runs on four hits in six innings. Taylor struck out three and had four intentional walks.
South Alabama starter Kevin Hill, the Sun Belt Pitcher of the Year, limited the Cajuns to one run on five hits in six innings in a no decision. Hill struck out a game-high five with two walks making the start on two days of rest.
Trosclair gave the Cajuns a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on a two-out single up the middle scoring Clement from second. Clement doubled to right in the previous at bat.
South Alabama loaded the bases in the bottom of the second with one out after an error by third baseman Brenn Conrad and a Leger walk. Conrad came through with a double play to end the inning on a ball hit to him by catcher Jared Barnes.
The Jaguars pulled even in the bottom half of the third as first baseman Ben Gann doubled down the right field line to score centerfielder Cole Billingsley to from first.
In the bottom of the fifth, Billingsley singled to lead off the inning and moved to third on a sac bunt and stolen base. Leger clamped down though as he made an outstanding play on a ball hit back up the middle by third baseman Bud Collura and got left fielder Adam Ballew to line out to center to end the threat.
The Ragin' Cajuns best threat before the 12th came in the top of the 10th. First baseman Greg Davis led off the inning with a double down the right field line and was pinch run for by freshman Jam Williams. Williams moved to third on a sac bunt by right fielder Dylan Butler. After Trahan was intentionally walked, Williams was thrown out at the plate to end the inning as he tried to tag from third on a line-out to Ballew in left by Conrad.
Louisiana broke the tie in the top of the 12th to take a 5-1 edge. Joe Robbins singled to lead off the inning and then moved to second on another Butler sac bunt. Following the second intentional walk to Trahan in the contest, Conrad moved the runners up on a slow ground ball to third.
South Alabama elected to issue another free pass to Clement to load the bases with two outs. In the following at bat, Trosclair drove a 1-0 pitch from Taylor over the 30-foot wall in right center for the squad's first grand slam of the season. The home run was the 16th of the season for Trosclair and his third of the tournament.
Milhorn got the Jaguars in order to close out the contest, getting shortstop Ryan Raspino to fly out to center to secure the title.