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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.