Louisiana-Lafayette's John Coker dives for the plate in an attempt to steal home as Southern's catcher Brandon Mason waits for the pitch in the second inning. Coker was safe at home.
June 4, 2005
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The last time Louisiana-Lafayette coach Tony Robichaux called for a steal of home was five years ago. The last time John Coker stole home was 14 years ago.
Both were successful both times.
The Ragin Cajuns stole home to get to the title game of the 2000 College World Series. Coker, who had not done it since he was 8-years-old, did it Saturday to help No. 3 seed Louisiana-Lafayette (48-18) beat Southern 9-1 in the second round of the New Orleans NCAA regional.
"We practice it everyday," Robichaux said. "It's not something we pulled out of a hat."
No. 4 seed Southern (29-18), which lost to top seed Tulane on Friday, was eliminated.
The Cajuns took a first-inning lead and never trailed, combining a pair of good pitching performances with aggressive base running - six stolen bases - and solid hitting.
A walk to Coker, who leads the Ragin Cajuns in stolen bases with 28, set up Louisiana-Lafayette's first run. Coker stole second and scored on Josh Landry's single to left field. After Jameson Parker and Justin Merendino walked to open the second inning, Coker put ULL up 2-0 with an RBI double.
In the second, Jonathan Lucroy singled Merendino home and Coker to third, knocking out Southern pitcher Damien Givens. David Bayless hit the first batter he faced, putting Dallas Morris on first, Lucroy on second and Coker on third. The Cajuns then staged a triple steal, with Coker successfully reaching home and Louisiana-Lafayette going up 4-0.
ULL assistant coach John Szefc timed Bayless when he warming up and thought they could steal on him. Szefc told Coker that if Bayless was pitching from a windup and didn't check third on the first pitch to head home on the second.
"Coach told me to get my motor running," Coker said. "My job was just to get there."
It was the second time Southern coach Roger Cador had someone steal home against him. The first time was in the 1990s when Grambling State did it, he said. The Cajuns did it easily, Cador said.
"When a pitcher makes a mental mistake, it's easy," Cador said. "The surprise of it made him slow his windup, and he really didn't know what to do."
Lucroy knocked in a fifth run for the Cajuns in the fourth inning.
Southern scored an unearned run in the fifth on fielding error by ULL shortstop Jameson Parker to make it 5-1.
The Cajun starter, freshman Hunter Moody, got the victory (2-0). He gave up just three hits in the first four innings, but in the fifth he allowed a pair of singles and advanced the runners on a balk. In the sixth he hit two batters and was replaced by Micah Cockrell, who played shortstop in the first round of the tournament on Friday. Cockrell struck out two to end the inning. Cockrell got his third save of the year allowing two hits and walking one.
Givens (7-1) took the loss.
Louisiana-Lafayette added two unearned runs in the seventh. In the ninth Justin Morgan drove in a run and scored on an error to make it 9-1 Louisiana-Lafayette.