TROY, Ala. — A week full of excitement and despair, blowouts and full-on meltdowns can be broken down into a singular, perfect quote.
“We just embrace the suck,” Louisiana-Lafayette freshman closer Dylan Moore said Saturday after saving not one but two games in a single day.
It’s a feat he accomplished after being on the receiving end of the worst kind of gut punch, the helpless kind where you’re all tied up with no way to defend yourself but the hits keep coming anyway.
Oh, y’all haven’t forgotten about that already, have you? The ninth-inning collapse against Texas State? Or even the five-run first inning against Troy the next day?
The Cajuns certainly haven’t forgotten about it.
They embraced the bad.
And because they embraced it, they’ll get an opportunity to keep embracing it in the NCAA tournament. Kind of surprising, after watching what happened in those two innings when nothing went right.
You want to see what embracing your struggles means?
Take a look at Kyle Clement, the outfielder who was camping under a fly ball in left field with a three-run lead and two outs before he lost it and the ball fell safely to the turf in front of him, scoring two.
Or maybe take a look at Stefan Trosclair, the second baseman who tried to backhand a ball that he should’ve gotten in front of later in that ninth inning. Another error, this one loading the bases and leading to a game-winning hit.
Those two guys? They just wound up going 19-for-39 at the plate the remainder of the tournament with 14 RBIs, five doubles and two home runs as the Cajuns rock ’n’ rolled their way to the championship.
You might have remembered one of those home runs, a 12th-inning monstrosity of a grand slam off Trosclair’s bat that sent the Cajuns into the NCAA tournament.
Consider it embraced.
“We’re resilient, man,” Trosclair said. “After that first game, we just flushed it and moved on, just kind of took it as ‘This is going to be our story.’ ”
One of the guys Trosclair drove in was Clement, whom South Alabama decided to intentionally walk to load the bases for Trosclair.
Want to know how hot Clement was after his error against Texas State? They intentionally walked him to get to Trosclair, the conference’s leader in home runs. Clement didn’t just bounce back; he bounced back swinging.
He was selected to the all-tournament roster despite that embarrassing moment in left field against Texas State — which came on his birthday, by the way. His teammates couldn’t resist poking fun at him when he walked up to accept his award.
“Hold on to it, Clem! Don’t drop it!” yelled the voices from the mob of teammates wearing Sun Belt Conference champion T-shirts and hats.
Clement just smiled.
There was Moore, who was charged with the loss against Texas State and then rebounded to save two more games in the tournament, escaping a bases-loaded jam in the last game by relying on his defense. We already know his opinion on bouncing back.
There was freshman starter Wyatt Marks, who recorded just one out before giving up five runs in his first tournament start, the first inning after the ninth inning debacle the night before. The Cajuns came back to him, humbled, and Marks responded with six brilliant innings.
By the time Sunday rolled around, the players were using the situation to their advantage. Take Brenn Conrad, who made an awful errant throw from third base in the second inning to help set up a bases-loaded, one-out scenario in the championship game. Two batters later, he turned a 5-3 double play to keep the Jaguars off the board.
After Wednesday’s disappointment, the Cajuns didn’t give up their tenuous grasp on the season. Now they’re champions, and their season is still going.
They’ll have to find something else to embrace this week.