June 14, 2000
By Doug Alden Associated Press
OMAHA, Neb. – A bunt that trickled halfway down the first-base went a long way for Louisiana-Lafayette.
Steven Feehan’s bunt single in the bottom of the ninth scored the tying and winning runs Wednesday as the Ragin’ Cajuns earned at least one more game in their first College World Series with a 5-4 win over Clemson.
“We thought if we could tie it we could win it,” Louisiana-Lafayette coach Tony Robichaux said. “Anything else from there would be extra for us. We got a lot extra after that.”
The Ragin’ Cajuns (49-19) extended their first CWS appearance and earned a rematch Thursday with Stanford, which beat Louisiana-Lafayette 6-4 in the opening round. Clemson was eliminated.
The play at the plate shocked the Tigers (51-18) and led to a scuffle between the two teams.
Feehan’s bunt scored Jarvis Larry from third and Rick Haydel from first when pitcher Ryan Mottl’s throw got past a diving Ryan Riley, who was rushing over from second to cover first.
Right fielder Justin Singleton fielded the ball and made the throw to the plate, but Haydel slid under the tag of catcher Brian Ellis.
“I just happened to get it in the right spot,” Feehan said. “One bad throw and Rick did a great job of hustling in.”
Clemson coach Jack Leggett stormed out of the dugout to argue the call, but home plate umpire Al Davis and the rest of crew quickly left the field.
Will Hawkins and Tommy Clark hit back-to-back homers and Feehan stole home for Louisiana-Lafayette, which is trying to become the first school since Minnesota in 1956 to win in its first CWS.
The Ragin’ Cajuns are 7-1 in elimination games.
“I think you’ve got to give credit to the character of the players, they’re ability to evaluate where they are and why they lost before,” Robichaux said.
The Tigers (51-18) overcame 6 1-3 shutout innings by Justin Gabriel and erased a 3-0 deficit with a four-run seventh. Clemson is the second team from South Carolina to get knocked out of the NCAA tournament by the Cajuns.
Louisiana-Lafayette advanced to the CWS by upsetting top-ranked South Carolina in the super regional.
“There’s no easy way to end a season, but this was particularly tough,” Leggett said. “We have some very experienced players, but we didn’t execute that final play very well.”
Trey Bullinger (3-0) pitched a scoreless ninth for Louisiana-Lafayette.
Mottl (10-4), who started the Tigers in their opening round win over San Jose State, gave up one run on two hits.
Clemson freshman Jarrod Schmidt, pitching for the first time since May 28, had seven solid innings and was on track for the win before the rally in the bottom of the ninth.
Cajuns starter Justin Gabriel, who got an extra day of rest because of the game was rained out Tuesday, had a shutout going until the seventh when the Tigers scored all four of their runs.
Mike Calitri and Singleton scored on an error and Patrick Boyd and Ellis scored on a single by Kahlil Green to give the Tigers a 4-3 lead.
After the homers by Hawkins and Clark with two outs in the fourth, Schmidt settled down and held them to just two more hits before being replaced by Steve Reba in the eighth. Schmidt got some help from Singleton, who leaped to catch two shots that were headed over the fence.
The Cajuns took a 2-0 lead in the fourth on the back-to-back homers by Hawkins and Clark, who both cleared the fence in right-center.
Louisiana-Lafayette went up 3-0 in the fifth when Feehan stole home with two outs.
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