Tuesday, May 31, 2016

On The Road To Louisiana

TigerBlog was in the Lincoln Financial Field press box well before the start of yesterday's North Carolina-Maryland NCAA men's lacrosse championship game.

Actually it wasn't as early as he'd been there the day before, when he thought the Division III final between Salisbury and Tufts started at noon, not 1. TB got there around 10 for that one.

He had a purpose yesterday in being there early. He wanted to see the NCAA baseball selection show, which was on at noon, ahead of the face-off at 1.
Princeton earned its spot in the NCAA tournament by beating Yale in three games in the Ivy League Championship Series. That was played two weekends ago, and those are the only three games that Princeton will have played in the month of May.

The Tigers will enter the NCAA tournament as the most rested team in the tournament, though that's not exactly something that is a positive in baseball, a sport that is about repetition.

TigerBlog has never been to an NCAA baseball regional, but he knew he'd be going to this one.

Warren Croxton, TigerBlog's colleague in the Office of Athletic Communications, is the baseball contact. He told TB a long time ago that he had a conflict for this weekend.

Princeton was coming off a 7-32 season, one that included a 4-16 record in the Ivy League that was the worst of the eight teams. When Warren said he wouldn't be around this weekend, it seemed okay.

Only Princeton started winning. And never stopped. And now the Tigers are back in the NCAA tournament.

Princeton was the first team to clinch a spot in the NCAA tournament, actually. And again, that's not always a good thing.

Mike Mahoney, TigerBlog's colleague from Penn who was the internal PA announcer at the lacrosse games this weekend, said that he kept seeing college baseball games on TV the last few days and figured they were all repeats because of how long it had been since Penn had played.

Princeton's regular season ended on April 30. Then the Tigers had to wait two weeks before playing Yale in the thrilling series that went three games. Those three games were played in two days, one on May 14 and two on May 15.

That left a 15-day wait til the selection show. It finally came about yesterday.

TigerBlog saw the 16 possible sites when they were announced. They are all big-time baseball schools. He mostly just wanted to go to a place he'd never been before.

He was hoping for Mississippi State or Ole Miss. Instead, the destination will be Louisiana-Lafayette. 

TigerBlog has never been there. He looked at the pictures of the baseball facility, and it certainly looks like it'll be the big-time college baseball experience.

And that's great for Princeton's players. It's a great reward for their season.

As TB said, Princeton has played three games on two days in the month of May.

Louisiana-Lafayette? The Ragin' Cajuns are 41-19. Of those 60 games, there were 16 that were played in May.

Included in the month was a 4-0 run through the Sun Belt Conference tournament, which ended Sunday with the championship. Louisiana-Lafayette is ranked 17th nationally, and clearly this will be a big test for Princeton, especially at that stadium - "Tigue" Moore Field - where L-L is 23-5 on the year.

The other two teams in the regional are Sam Houston State and Arizona. It is double-elimination, beginning for the Tigers Friday at 8 on ESPN3. Or is that 9? Is it central time in Lafayette, Louisiana? Yes. It is central.

As for the other two teams, Sam Houston is 41-20 and Arizona is 38-20.

Staying with the first game for a second, Louisiana-Lafayette has hit 40 home runs and 114 doubles this season. Leading the way with nine home runs and 33 RBI is Joe Robbins, who is a 5-9, 195-pound shortstop.

The Ragin' Cajuns have a legitimate closer in Dylan Moore, a 6-4, 220-pound sophomore who has a 6-1 record with 13 saves and 56 strikeouts in 47.2 innings. The rest of the staff seems pretty balanced, at least according to the stats.

Louisiana-Lafayette's entire roster is from either Texas or Louisiana, except for one player from Mississippi and another from, of all places, British Columbia. 

Baseball is a game where a few unfortunately placed line drives into fielders' gloves and well-placed bloops off of bats can radically change things on any given night.

Princeton gets its first shot at an NCAA given night Friday, in what should be a great setting.

The last time Princeton was in the NCAA baseball tournament was in 2011. It only seems like five years since Princeton has played a game, when in reality it will have been 19 days, 16 of which are already gone.

Now it's NCAA tournament time.


Anonymous said...

Uh TB.... The ILCS was against Yale.

YA said...

Enjoy the trip. Baseball regionals were by far my favorite trips as a baseball contact. Tremendous atmosphere, interest in all of the teams, and well... good baseball. I wish Lafayette, La., wasn't so far from upstate New York or I would join you there. Go Tigers!

Steven Feldman '68 said...

It is interesting to see the NCAA RPI Baseball Rankings as of May 29. Princeton is actually 6th in the East and 105 overall out of 300 teams. Bryant is first in the East followed by Boston College,UConn, Hartford, Pittsburgh, and then Princeton. We are rated just above Rutgers and far ahead of St. John's and Seton Hall whom we defeated earlier in the season. The next Ivy League team is Columbia who is 178.

Princeton OAC said...

It was Yale. Not Harvard. TigerBlog apologizes.

University of Louisiana said...

This will be a Mardi Gras atmosphere. The crowd is is always amped and Cajun fans have never met anyone they didnt like. Tailgating is strong here. Please allow yourselves ample time, pregame to walk through the tailgating area. You will not go away hungry or thirsty. Your ball club and the fans that travel to the game will really enjoy themselves. Have a safe trip down and good luck!