The Last Time UALR Beat the Cajuns – From the Bird’s Nest
Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns carry a sixteen game winning streak against UALR as the teams meet for three at Gary Hogan Field this weekend.
The Cajuns have swept five straight series, including two at Hogan Field, a hitters park with short dimensions. It’s not easy to keep the score down here.
And, the last time the Cajuns lost to the Trojans, that was proven to be true. It was perhaps the most costly regular season loss in the Tony Robichaux era. It certainly cost the Cajuns the most….like a conference title and a postseason trip.
The year was 2006. Troy was in its first year in the league and there was a three way race for the title between the Cajuns, Troy and South Alabama. The Cajuns lost the series in Mobile, and won a tight series in Lafayette against Troy.
The Cajuns won the first game at Gary Hogan Field (then called Curran-Conway Park) but Saturday’s game was rained out, necessitating a Sunday doubleheader. In Sunday’s first game, Louisiana was cruising with an 11-4 lead. Freshman Danny Farquhar was summoned in from the bullpen to finish it. But Farquhar allowed a hit, walked a guy, gave up another hit, hit a batter…you get the message. Exit Farquhar, enter Chad Beck.
And Beck finished the collapse. He gave up a hit, a game tying three run homer, a walk and two more hits and UALR had completed the comeback with an improbable eight run rally and a 12-11 win. There’s some irony that both Farquhar and Beck got September call-ups from the Toronto Blue Jays.
When the dust settled, the Cajuns were a game behind Troy in the regular season standings. South Alabama finished third.
At the conference tournament, the Cajuns and Jaguars met in post-season for the first time since 1998. The Cajuns won, evening the season series at two each. And, with the Cajuns’ second place finish, it looked like that win would get the Cajuns to their second straight regional.
But a week before the regular season ended, former South Alabama coach Steve Kittrell started his ace, P. J. Walters, in a mid-week game in Tallahassee against Frorida State. The Jaguars won. And, it was that game which probably made the difference to the selection committee.
But, there was no way the Cajuns would have been left out had they been co-champions of the regular season. Their RPI was in the ballpark and the Sun Belt regular season title would have meant something to the selection committee. And, remember, because of the regular season series win over Troy, the Cajuns would have been the top seed for the tournament.
The following year, the Cajuns clinched the regular season title by bludgeoning UALR 28-3, a game where Tony Robichaux emptied his bench but couldn’t stop the onslaught. The Cajuns have continued the streak since then, although in the last couple of years, the games have been close.
There’s no telling whether the streak will continue. In fact, chances are it won’t. UALR is pretty good at home and they haven’t lost a home series this year.
But winning is a habit. So is losing.
This is a big series. Let’s see how it plays out.