The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Baseball team began their season Friday, Feb. 18 with their first-ever game against the UC-Irvine Anteaters, who entered the weekend top 20 in the nation on D1Baseball.com’s national poll. Expectations were high, and over 4,300 fans were in attendance to see the hopeful upset.
Both teams opened scoring in the second inning; an Anteaters home run from graduate infielder Taishi Nakawake put up two runs, and the Cajuns answered right back with a homer of their own from senior infielder Jon Brandon to tie the game at 2–2. Senior outfielder Connor Kimple and sophomore outfielder Carson Roccaforte took the lead for the Cajuns in the third inning with a pair of solo home runs.
Cajuns’ senior pitcher Brandon Talley got stuck in a bind in the fifth inning, with the field giving up an error on a three-RBI double. The Anteaters added an RBI single to take the lead for good, as the game would end with no more Cajuns runs, 4–7.
The Cajuns came out swinging for the next game, scoring off Kimple’s two-RBI single and a sac fly from Roccaforte in the first inning to run out to a 3–1 lead. The Anteaters would fight back in the fifth again, taking a one-run lead back by scoring off redshirt sophomore outfielder Nathan Church’s infield single and a two-RBI shot to midfield from graduate infielder Jacob Castro. The Cajuns offense answered right back, with an infield single RBI from junior fielder Tyler Robertson and another homer from Kimple. Junior outfielder Max Marusak’s quick baserunning in the seventh helped to score during a double play. The game ended two innings later with no more runs, 7–4.
Senior pitcher Jacob Schultz gets the win for this one, but the whole pitching crew had a great hard-fought game. Peyton Harvard put in four innings of one-run work midway through, and Dylan Theut recorded a tough save with four strikeouts and 56 pitches thrown in 2.1 innings.
For the tie-breaker game on Sunday, the Cajuns opened scoring in the second with yet another Kimple home run. Senior infielder Jonathan Brandon also recorded an RBI single off a two-strike count. The Anteaters rallied to take the lead in the next inning with a Church RBI single and a two-RBI shot off a full count from sophomore catcher Thomas McCaffrey. Then, with the game waning in the eighth, Roccaforte took the lead back with a two-RBI shot to right field, and junior infielder CJ Willis provided the insurance run with a drive to center field. The pitching was great again, with sophomore Bo Bonds’ no hits and five strikeouts in nine at-bats more than earning the win.
This start to the season served as an interesting parallel to last season’s start in 2021, the Cajuns opened with a road series against Tulane, losing the first game and winning the second and third. Hopefully, the parallels with last season will end there and the Cajuns will climb their schedule to the top of the SBC.