This is the first in a series of highlights by UL of the 2018 Louisiana Athletics Hall of Fame Class.
By: DAN McDONALD
LAFAYETTE – When he joined the then-USL team as a walk-on in 1998, Scott Dohmann never dreamed that he would soon be starting the most significant game in Ragin’ Cajun baseball history.
“Coming out of high school, I thought I had the world by the tail,” said the Lafayette native and former standout at St. Thomas More High School. “That changed in a hurry. It didn’t take me long to figure out that if I was going to do something in this game and with myself, it was time to close your mouth, open your eyes and ears, and go to work.”
That work paid off handsomely three seasons later, when Dohmann started and won the third and deciding game of the NCAA Super Regional at Columbia, S.C., over heavily-favored South Carolina. That 2000 win put the Cajuns into their first and only appearance in the College World Series.
“That game, it just brought the whole career to a head,” he said. “It all came down to that. Not to take anything away from the other championships we were able to win, but that one, for the team, for the staff, for the university, for the community, and for myself, it was all on the line.”
That win capped an honor-filled season and helped springboard Dohmann to a five-year career in Major League Baseball. It was those accomplishments that also paved the way to his selection into the Louisiana Athletics Hall of Fame, which he will join this week.
“Coach (Tony) Robichaux was the first one to call me,” Dohmann said. “We stay in contact a lot, but I thought it was odd that he called, and then texted me right after he called, and then he called me again. I figured it was either something really good or something really bad, but I was kind of speechless.”
Dohmann was never one that did a lot of talking or showing a lot of excitement, preferring to let his pitching speak for him during a career that made him the school’s all-time leader in career victories (26) before he signed a professional contract following his 2000 junior season.
“No call like that is ever expected,” he said. “But to be honored like that is special. I always tried to just go about my business, and I was able to go on and play ball after college. I was blessed with good enough health to do that. But when I was walking on at USL you never think you’re going to be in the Hall of Fame.”
Dohmann will be honored along with fellow former student-athletes Damon Mason (football), Tiffany Clark Gusman (softball) and Anna Petrakova (women’s basketball), and Lifetime Achievement recipients Yvette Girouard (softball) and Gerald Hebert (administration) as the newest Hall of Fame members.
The group will be inducted into the Louisiana Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday at an evening reception, will be honored during the university’s annual Homecoming parade Saturday morning, and recognized during halftime activities of Saturday’s Homecoming game against New Mexico State at Cajun Field.
Cajun Field is right next to M. L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park, where Dohmann eventually earned Collegiate Baseball All-America and Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year honors. Along with his career victory mark, he ranks in the top five in single-season games started, innings pitched and strikeouts.
“Scott worked while he waited his turn,” Robichaux said. “Once he got his turn he never looked back. He was not only a great pitcher but a great leader. He was a model student-athlete, the kind you want other guys to emulate.”
Dohmann was a sixth-round pick of the Colorado Rockies in the 2000 draft and pitched for the Rockies, the Kansas City Royals and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He also pitched in Triple-A with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers organizations before retiring in 2010.
But that game 10 years earlier remains his lasting memory, when the Cajuns broke through after bitter disappointment one year earlier. USL had reached the Super Regional in 1999, the first year of the NCAA’s expanded format that added the Super Regional round, and played Rice in the Astrodome in Houston. That year, the Cajuns won the opener of the best-of-three series before losing two straight to the Owls.
“The experience from 1999 played a huge role in us getting there,” Dohmann said. “When we lost the first game at South Carolina, we could see the flip side because of what happened the previous year. We knew we were not out of it.”
“When we got back, Dohmann had put the box score of the game he pitched there and didn’t win (a 10-1 decision in the second game),” Robichaux said. “He made a vow, ‘If I ever have an opportunity again to pitch us to Omaha, I’m going to get it done.’ Lo and behold, he has a chance to pitch us to Omaha a year later, and he does it.”
It wouldn’t have happened if Robichaux and Dohmann hadn’t talked before the second game at South Carolina, after the Cajuns lost the opener of the series. Robichaux handed the game two ball to freshman Andy Gros, who after a shaky start shut the Gamecocks out over the final eight innings to set up the winner-to-CWS game.
In that finale, Dohmann gave up only one hit through five innings and left in the seventh with a 3-2 lead. An inning later, Cajun closer Gordon O’Brien came in, and eventually induced a game-ending ground ball to first baseman Scott Atwood in the ninth.
“It’s all a blur,” Dohmann said, “just the images and feeling that I was out of control at the end. When you’re on the mound you can keep focus, but when you’re taken out you have no control over what happens. The emotions in that dugout were running everywhere. I can’t tell you how many prayers I said when Gordy was on that mound, hoping that this would be the year for us.”