Road Trips Weathering Ragin’ Cajuns For Postseason [VIDEO]
Hitting the road is always hard. The beds don't feel the same. Travel is grueling. Then, you have to go into somebody's house and win a game. It's a lot easier said than done.
Tony Robichaux's Ragin' Cajuns Baseball team played more games away from M.L. Tigue Moore than at home so far this season, and it's weathering them. If you want to win in the postseason, winning road games is the way to prepare. After a very slow start, the Cajuns are figuring it out on the fly.
"I think you have to go out on the road to get weathered," Robichaux said after his team picked up two out of three games over Georgia Southern in Statesboro (full press conference video below). "It's been good for us to get out on the road because that was the issue we had to solve."
That makes two straight series wins on the road in Sun Belt play. At 21-11 (10-5 SBC), every game matters right now, in terms of the RPI and postseason play. The expectations were very high for this team heading into the season, but Coach Robe expected his team to deal with some dips and dives.
There's a price for success at the collegiate level. You lose your players to the draft, and in baseball, they can leave as juniors. The Cajuns were fortunate enough to have some serious talent on the roster, but they also had to say goodbye when the pros came calling with the right numbers.
"We lost eight professional players, and you're going to go through some peaks and valleys," Robichaux pointed out.
The peaks and valleys don't just span a season either. Teams can experience both extremes in one series, or even a game. The third game of the Georgia Southern series was a perfect example. The Cajuns were down by two runs late in the game, then Brian Mills took the lid off the game with a grand slam and Brenn Conrad sealed it with a two-RBI double. It was wild, but the Cajuns survived.
"We had some circus baseball going on Sunday, but we were fortunate enough to not end up as a clown," Robichaux joked. He was happy to see Mills, a senior, deliver the blow that brought momentum back on their side, "You have to get some help from your older players, especially that type of help."
If the veterans do the heavy lifting, the Cajuns are set up for success. Robichaux emphasized the importance of the junior college players several times this season, and consistent play from Steven Sensley, Alex Pinero and Brad Antchak would only add onto the momentum the Cajuns are building.
With Hunter Kasuls out with a broken hand, Antchak is being forced in front of the fire. He's been able to swing the bat well at times, but there are still some inconsistencies for him to fix. Coach Robichaux expects him to come through, and he's not cutting him much slack.
"He should step up, he's an older guy," Robichaux said. "He's a junior college guy, there's no excuse."
The time for excuses is over, and Robichaux doesn't want to hear them. All his years coaching taught him to not test the game of baseball, and they taught him to learn from the lessons of the road.
Tough leather withstands the worst weathering. If the Cajuns want to ride into the regionals and beyond, their saddle has to survive more harsh conditions.