Jackson State’s 1-0 upset victory against No. 1-ranked Louisiana-Lafayette in the NCAA Lafayette regional Friday night at Moore Field was the school’s first in the NCAA tournament.
It was also just the fifth by a member of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
Southern leads the way with three wins — beating top-ranked Cal State Fullerton in 1987 in New Orleans, Northeast Louisiana in 2000 at LSU and Southern Miss in 2003 in Hattiesburg, Miss.
The Jaguars’ first win was especially memorable because it came in their first NCAA tournament appearance and because closer Al Ratliff pitched a complete game in his first start of the season.
“I don’t know why I did it,” Southern coach Roger Cador said. “Maybe I had instincts. Normally, that’s not what you do. … Times were different. You could extend kids. He wanted the challenge.”
Texas Southern (19-35) shocked defending national champion and fourth-ranked Rice 4-3 in 2004 in Houston.
UL-Lafayette right-hander Carson Baranik will be about as rested as a starting pitcher can be this time of year when he takes the mound against San Diego State in an elimination game at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Baranik, the Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year, hasn’t thrown since appearing in the Ragin’ Cajuns’ second game in the Sun Belt tournament May 22 in Mobile, Alabama. On top of that, Baranik had his shortest outing of the season in the game against Texas State, leaving after just 2.1 innings.
UL-Lafayette coach Tony Robichaux could have gone back to Baranik to start the title game against UT-Arlington three days later, but chose instead to start Greg Milhorn.
Representing a good cause
Several members of the Cajuns team wore green wristbands during Friday’s game in support of organ donation, specifically to honor Lafayette’s Christian Nelson.
The 18-year-old Lafayette High School graduate was killed in a work accident last May 30, one year to the day the Cajuns opened play in the regional round. Since then, parents Hans and Jenn Nelson established Christian’s Legacy, a foundation that promotes organ donation.
UL-Lafayette All-American second baseman Jace Conrad and his brother, former Cajuns player Brenn Conrad, were close friends and fellow LHS students with Nelson, who had signed up as an organ donor at age 16 when he received his driver’s license. Shreveport college student Kaylon Marshall received Nelson’s heart. His kidneys, tissues and corneas belong to other Louisiana residents.
Hans and Jenn Nelson were in attendance at Friday’s game. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, an average of 18 people die each day because of a shortage of donated organs.
More small ball
UL-Lafayette has been among the best power-hitting teams in the country all season, but it’s equally comfortable playing small ball.
That was demonstrated right away when Conrad beat out a bunt with two outs in the bottom of the first. That was UL-Lafayette’s 43rd bunt but of the season. Caleb Adams singled Conrad to third and then stole second, but the Cajuns failed to score when Greg Davis popped out.
Oxford regional rained out
OXFORD, Miss. — Both opening round games of the NCAA tournament’s Oxford regional were rained out Friday.
The two games were pushed to Saturday. No. 2 seed Washington will face No. 3 Georgia Tech at 1 p.m., followed by No. 1 Mississippi and No. 4 Jacksonville State at 5 p.m.
The regional will now have three games scheduled for Sunday with the championship moved to Monday.
Soggy weather could be a threat throughout the weekend, with scattered storms expected throughout the next three days.
Les East, Dan McDonald, Bobby Ardoin, Executive Sports Editor Joseph Schiefelbein and The Associated Press contributed to this report.