LAFAYETTE, La. - Jackson State grinded out a 1-0 win over No.1 ranked (USA Today/ESPN Poll) Louisiana to open the 2014 NCAA Baseball Tournament on Friday in the Lafayette Regional at M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field.
JSU (32-23), winners of back-to-back SWAC championships, picked up its first win in NCAA postseason handing ULL (53-8) its first shut-out loss on the year. The Tigers become the third team from the Southwestern Athletic Conference to earn a victory in the regionals since the 64-team expansion. The last team from the league to pull out a win in postseason play was Texas Southern in 2004 defeating top-seeded Rice, 4-3.
Vincent Anthonia (4-0) earned the win serving six innings with a pair of strikeouts and 51 strikes.
Alex Juday picked up his fourth save of the season. He closed out the final three innings with two strikeouts including one in the final frame against Blake Trahan who was 3-for-3 at the plate prior to striking out swinging. In the eighth he faced the gauntlet of ULL's lineup with runners on second and third. He worked out of the jam and struck out Kyle Clement to end the inning.
JSU posted the eventual game winning run after Melvin Rodriguez singled up the middle with two outs scoring Desmond Russell. Russell doubled down the left field line with one out to get on base and hand the Tigers their only run of the evening.
The Ragin Cajuns finished 0-7 with runners in scoring position as Austin Robichaux (7-3) picked up the loss throwing six strikeouts. He sat in the top of the ninth after allowing two to reach base. Relief pitcher Matt Plitt threw one strikeout as the inning ended on a double play line out to shortstop and second base.
JSU finished with four hits with Rodriguez going 2-for-4 at the plate while Russell and Charles Tillery posted one hit apiece. UL, carrying the nation's longest win streak at 10 games, collected eight hits but left 11 stranded on base.
JSU's win sets up an all Mississippi showdown with Mississippi State on Saturday. The first pitch is slated for 6 p.m. in the double-elimination tournament. The Bulldogs defeated San Diego State earlier in the day 5-2.
-The Tigers recorded a 1-0 victory for the first time since beating Texas Southern in the fifth game of the 1981 season.
-JSU recorded its first postseason win in program history.
-The win is the first 1-0 victory for the Tigers under head coach Omar Johnson.
-Vincent Anthonia picked up his fourth win of the season.
JSU Post-game Quotes:
Jackson State Head Coach Omar Johnson Opening Statement:
It was a tough game. That is an outstanding team. Both teams battled nine innings and the crowd got their money’s worth.
Vincent Anthonia on where the performance ranks among his pitching performances:
Not sure, but I can tell you it wasn’t easy. We knew coming in that they were a really good hitting team. As far as where it ranks, I’m not sure.
Vincent Anthonia on his approach dealing with an offense that didn’t appear to have any weaknesses:
I had to trust my changeup because that’s basically all I threw the whole game. I knew that I had to keep the ball down because if not they would have kept hitting home runs. I wouldn’t say that I faced a lot of pressure, because you can when the crowd is pumped up, I was fortunate to avoid it.
Vincent Anthonia on at what point you felt you could close out the victory:
We never really thought of that because that team can switch the momentum at any point. We knew every time we went out on the field we had to get three outs quickly.
Melvin Rodriguez on the importance of getting the run across because it would be a low-scoring game:
That situation was similar to the whole season. I was looking for fastball to drive in a run and the second pitch was a fastball down the middle and I was able to turn on it.
Vincent Anthonia on not being in awe of No. 1 ranked team:
I have to give credit to my team. Last night we had a meeting and we told each other to have fun. There was really nothing to lose so just come in and play the game that we love.
Melvin Rodriguez on what it means to produce first NCAA regional win in school history:
This is amazing, what we’ve been able to accomplish. It’s something special. I respect the other team. My teammates, we battled and fought the whole year and when you do good things happen.
Omar Johnson on choosing Vincent Anthonia to start the contest:
His last start was against Alabama when they were eighth in the country and he basically shut them out through six innings. He’s pitched in the Little League World series, too, so being on TV and feeling pressure is not a big deal. That’s an outstanding team. We played them close last year (in Baton Rouge Regional) where they had an unbelievable inning and aside from that it was blow-for-blow through the first five or six innings. They’re an overly aggressive team which plays into the changeup so that’s all we did. It’s not rocket science…it was playing against what they try and do best. Being overly aggressive, they chase pitches out of the zone and off the end of the bat comes a lot of fly balls. We made some good decisions in the game and their kid battled hard allowing only one run.
Omar Johnson on what it means to be able to share this moment with his team:
We have a lot of seniors and they won a lot of games especially some of the guys who have been around for four years and redshirts who have five years. I felt that wouldn’t be rattled by this situation. There were nearly 15,000 last year at LSU so they’d seen the atmosphere before. You play against the ball and if you do everything you need to against the ball it doesn’t make a difference who’s on the other end.
Omar Johnson on Vincent Anthonia’s ability to contain the Ragin’ Cajuns:
As long as he made his pitches I knew we were going to keep guys off balance. He knew if he messed up what could possibly happen…those guys are dangerous. They drove two balls into the gap that we had to catch at the warning track. You have to respect your opponent, that’s half the battle. If you respect your opponent it keeps you from walking into a situation blind.