LAFAYETTE — Louisiana-Lafayette baseball fans got to see the immediate past and the immediate future of the Ragin’ Cajuns program at the same time Sunday.
The squad held its annual Fan Day on Sunday at Tigue Moore Field, with nearly four hours of activities wrapping up with a three-inning scrimmage that pitted current Cajuns players against a team that featured six now-departed standouts from last year’s NCAA super regional squad.
The “professionals” won 2-1 and, to little surprise, it was 2014 All-America second baseman Jace Conrad who brought home the winning run with an RBI fielder’s choice.
“You do what you have to do to win,” said Conrad, who had 65 RBIs last year to share team honors with outfielder Seth Harrison.
Those two joined ex-Cajuns Michael Strentz at catcher, Caleb Adams in right field, Ryan Leonards at shortstop and Chase Compton at first base. All six were starters on last year’s 58-10 squad that was ranked No. 1 nationally and hosted NCAA regional and super regional rounds.
Two pitchers from last year’s starting rotation, Austin Robichaux and Carson Baranik, also were drafted last summer.
“It says a lot about our team that guys can come here and develop,” Cajuns coach Tony Robichaux said, “because really only one or two of those guys were previously drafted before they got here.”
Current players Derek Herrington, Joe Robbins, Adam Angelle and Jam Williams filled out the rest of the “professionals” team. Williams, a freshman outfielder out of Union Parish High School, scored the winning run on Conrad’s grounder after opening the third with a single to right field and then stealing second and third.
The current Cajuns team got its run in the second inning when senior outfielder Dylan Butler laced a two-out homer to left. Returning shortstop and preseason All-American Blake Trahan had a hit in his only at-bat.
Butler goes deepest
Even though they’re less than a year apart in age, Sunday’s Fan Day home run derby came down to the old versus the new. This time, the new won out.
Butler had to go an extra round to win that title Sunday, getting a walk-off homer in the extra round to beat out Strentz 5-4.
“That was an all-out brawl with me and the reigning champion,” Butler said. “We’re great friends, so it was kind of like it was meant to be.”
Strentz, now in the Los Angeles Angels organization and the starting catcher for the rookie-league Orem Owlz last summer, won last year’s derby when he hit double-figure homers before getting 10 outs. This year, with the wind blowing in, he and Butler tied with four apiece during a 15-player competition that mixed current and former players.
The two had a five-out extra round, to determine both the individual and team titles when their teams tied with six each. After Strentz couldn’t get another homer before getting to five outs, Butler homered on his second hit for the title.
Getting your money’s worth
Strentz, Adams and Austin Robichaux gave the Angels organization heavy representation Sunday. All three played at Orem last summer, and Tony Robichaux had the chance to watch his son start for the Owls on a late-summer trip. Strentz was the catcher, and Adams was in the outfield.
“And they won that ballgame,” the coach said.
Also in attendance was former Cajuns standout Danny Farquhar, who played from 2006-08 and was a 10th-round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2008. Farquhar has pitched in 110 games for the Seattle Mariners in the past two seasons, going 3-1 with a 2.66 ERA in 71 innings last year.
A fowl ball
New UL-Lafayette hitting coach Jeremy Talbot has many duties in the program, and he added one more this week.
A hawk took residence in one of the team’s batting cages down the right-field line, and Talbot had to clean up the remnants of a dove that apparently provided one of the hawk’s meals.
“These guys are already calling it the hawk’s cage,” Talbot said. “That’s got to be a good sign for us.”
His jersey was there
Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy, a Cajuns standout from 2005-07, could not attend Fan Day. Lucroy, the school’s all-time leader in RBIs and total bases, flew back to Wisconsin on Sunday.
His presence was still known, though, as his autographed jersey pulled the highest bid among the items in a public and silent auction. Marla Trahan had a successful $600 bid for the gold jersey.