Live Blog Live updates from the Sun Belt Conference media day in New Orleans
Regarded as the No. 1 recruit in the nation by most of the recruiting services last year, running back Leonard Fournette has come to LSU with plenty of fanfare and expectations. At 6 feet 1, 224 pounds, Fournette has a unique blend of power and speed and should get plenty of playing time this season.
By Ross Dellenger
LAFAYETTE – No. 1 is gone.
Louisiana-Lafayette had the tying run thrown out at the plate in the seventh inning before things unraveled, and Ole Miss ended the Ragin’ Cajuns magical 2014 run with a 10-4 win Monday night in the decisive third game of the Lafayette super regional.
In front of a rocking crowd at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field, the Rebels (46-19) turned a close one into a rout, exploding for five runs over the final two frames for the program’s first trip to Omaha in 42 years.
UL-Lafayette (58-10) pitchers walked eight and hit three batters, and the Ragin’ Cajuns, the unanimous No. 1-ranked team entering this game and the NCAA tournament national No. 6 seed, had a bullpen collapse.
Despite committing four errors, the Rebels ended the hopes of a Cajuns team that set the school record for wins in front of a rowdy 4,295. For the first time all season, UL-Lafayette lost back-to-back games. The Cajuns dropped a 5-2 game Sunday after winning the opener of this best-of-three super regional 9-5 on Saturday.
Ole Miss reliever Scott Weathersby got the win on the mound, and the Rebels took advantage of a UL-Lafayette bullpen that floundered late.
The Rebels entered this deciding game 0 for 6 under coach Mike Bianco in games that would have sent them to Omaha. Bianco, a former LSU catcher and coach, now takes his team to the College World Series in his 14th season at the helm.
Ole Miss will play national 3 seed Virginia on Sunday night at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb.
The game-changing play in this one came in the seventh inning.
The Cajuns had the then-tying run thrown out the plate in the frame.
Seth Harrison smashed a two-out double down the left field line to bring home Tyler Girouard before Caleb Adams was thrown out in an impressive play from the Rebels.
Left fielder Braxton Lee corralled Harrison’s shot off the brick wall lining the left field stands and tossed to relay man Errol Robinson. Robinson rifled a throw to catcher Will Allen, a perfect toss.
Allen blocked the plate and made a sweeping tag of Adams, inciting a dramatic “out” call from home plate umpire Heath Jones.
Replay showed it was the correct call, and Ole Miss then grabbed the momentum. The Rebels added a run in the eighth and piled on four runs in the ninth inning – three of them on Holt Perdzock’s bases-loaded, three-RBI double.
Ole Miss bats were too much early, too.
The Rebels got two home runs in the fourth inning, recovering from a 1-0 deficit to take a 3-1 lead. The Cajuns tied it in the bottom of the inning, getting an RBI groundout from Michael Strentz and a two-out, RBI double from Ryan Leonards.
Both starters had short stints. Ole Miss’ Sam Smith went just 3.2 inning. Cody Boutte, the losing pitcher, lasted just four innings. He hit Braxton Lee to begin the fifth inning before coach Tony Robichaux yanked him from the mound.
Boutte allowed five hits, and Smith gave up six.
UL-Lafayette wasted several chances.
In the sixth, the Cajuns had a two-out rally squashed. With two on and two away, Jace Conrad flew out to deep right field against hard-throwing Ole Miss reliever Josh Laxer.
UL-Lafayette threatened in the second inning, but Ole Miss center fielder Auston Bousfield made a diving catch that saved a pair of runs. The Cajuns left a runner stranded on second base in each the third, fourth and fifth innings.
UL-Lafayette got the leadoff on in the sixth inning, but Harrison was caught stealing second base.
The Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s executive committee made some solid decisions during the first portion of its summer meeting Thursday morning.
Will something come out of the first executive session? Will the committee act on the three main recommendations of the School Relations Committee? We’ll see about that and the discussion on third-party arbitration later in the afternoon.
One of the most significant things to come out of the morning meeting is that the LHSAA may face financial consequences if schools split beyond the current football championships or if private schools choose to leave the association.
The six-year sponsorship contract signed with the Allstate Sugar Bowl contains on “out clause” that would allow the group that will now be the LHSAA’s title-game sponsor for major events to opt out of the deal if the make-up/configuration of the LHSAA changes.
All member schools, not just the ones active on the executive committee, should know this. LHSAA Executive Director Kenny Henderson and Mitch Small both said they believe other lucrative sponsors who make it possible for the LHSAA to do many of the things it does could do likewise in the future.
Moving on …
I thought the recommendations by the School Relations Committee were solid. The idea of doing a full audit of teams that win state championships is good.
The plan to hold four select football title games on Dec. 5 this year and nonselect on Dec. 12-13 makes sense. Having nine games played over three days didn’t work well for many people. Early start times probably limited fan turnout.
An audit of all things eligibility and otherwise associated with football powers like John Curtis and Evangel Christian would address, at least in some way, grumblings about cheating. If you do all teams in major team championships it would fair.
The recommendation that would have member schools vote on the championship eligibility of schools every two years in conjunction with the classification process is a variation of a plan that has been talked about for years,
Instead of simply voting schools out of the association, select schools and nonselect schools would have the option of preventing schools from playing for championship honors if the schools are deemed to not be following LHSAA rules.
Nonselect or public schools would vote on their schools, while select schools, the group that includes private, full magnet, laboratory and some charter schools, would vote on the two-year status of their schools.
Another recommendation, requiring the schools to play 70 percent of their schedules against LHSAA schools, also is solid. It would prevent schools from playing a “national schedule,” which is seen as a way to attract students. It would also likely force teams like Curtis, Evangel and Calvary Baptist to play each other on a regular basis.
Because so many questions abound, it probably would be wise for the LHSAA to delay its next classification period set for this fall to be delayed until after the January convention when any proposals to split the association would be heard and voted on.
It was interesting that the School Relations Committee recommended that its plan to provide separate divisions for select and nonselect schools within the LHSAA is being shelved for now.
Was that based on the surveys answered by more than 200 principals? Maybe, but I can’t say for sure because the LHSAA chose not to share the exact survey results with the media, other than to note that 30 percent of schools didn’t respond.
However, I do agree that results of an anonymous survey filled out by principal now will not necessarily indicate how that principal will vote on whether to split the LHSAA in January when surrounded by other principals.