LOUISIANA (32-23 in 2021) vs. No. 14 UC IRVINE (43-18 in 2021)
Dates: Friday-Sunday, February 18-20, 2022
Location: Lafayette, La.
Site: M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park (6,015)
Times: 6 p.m. (Fri.), 2 p.m. (Sat.), 12 p.m. (Sun.)
Radio: KPEL-FM (96.5)
Live Stats: www.CajunStats.com [cajunstats.com]
Series Record: First meeting
Friday – RHP Drew Shifflet (UL) vs. RHP Michael Frias (UCI)
Saturday – RHP Peyton Havard (UL) vs. LHP Nick Pinto (UCI)
Sunday – RHP Jeff Wilson (UL) vs. TBA
LAFAYETTE – The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Baseball team opens its 99th season of recorded intercollegiate play on Friday when it faces defending Big West Conference champion and 2021 NCAA Regional participant UC Irvine in a three-game series at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park.
Friday’s opener is scheduled for 6 p.m., with Saturday’s contest set for 2 p.m., and Sunday’s finale at noon. All three games will be streamed live on ESPN+ with Dan McDonald (pxp) and Ronnie Rantz (color) calling the games on Friday and Sunday. Jeff Palermo (pxp) and former Ragin’ Cajuns letterwinner Brennan Breaux (color) will handle the action in Saturday’s contest.
All three games will also be aired locally on KPEL-FM (96.5) with Jay Walker (pxp) and former Ragin’ Cajuns player Brad Topham (color) handling the commentary.
Louisiana, under third-year coach Matt Deggs, posted a 32-23 record in 2021 and claimed the Sun Belt Conference West Division title.
Junior right-hander Drew Shifflet, a transfer from the University of Texas, will earn the start in his Louisiana debut in Friday’s opener with UC Irvine countering with senior right-hander Michael Frias. Saturday’s contest will pit right-hander Peyton Havard on the mound for Louisiana with the Anteaters sending southpaw Nick Pinto to the mound.
The Ragin’ Cajuns will conclude the series on Sunday with senior Jeff Wilson making his first career start with UCI’s starter in the finale to be determined.
The Ragin’ Cajuns open the season against a nationally-ranked opponent for the first time since hosting No. 23-ranked Texas in 2019.
The three-game series against UC Irvine is the first of 16 games scheduled for Louisiana against teams which competed in the 2021 NCAA Championships.
Five of Louisiana’s seven games in the month of February are against teams ranked in the top 15 in the national polls (3 games vs. UC Irvine, 1 game vs. Stanford/Arkansas).
Louisiana was picked to finish tied for third in the Sun Belt Conference Preseason Poll after receiving 117 points and a pair of first-place votes.
Louisiana posted a record of 28-6 when scoring 4+ runs per game during the 2021 season.
The Ragin’ Cajuns were 24-4 during the 2021 season when allowing 4 runs or less per game.
As a pitching staff in 2021, Louisiana finished sixth nationally in team earned run average (3.37) and was 14th overall in hits allowed per nine innings (7.62).
SCOUTING UC IRVINE
The Anteaters, picked to finish second in the Big West Conference, reached Championship Sunday in the 2021 NCAA Regionals in Palo Alto, Calif., falling twice to eventual CWS participant Stanford.
UC Irvine posted a 43-18 record under head coach and former Anteater letterwinner Ben Orloff while claiming the Big West Conference title with a 32-8 mark.
Returning All-American Nathan Church led UCI in hitting last season with a .369 average while posting a slash line of .369/.424/.583.
As a team, the Anteaters finished in the top-25 nationally in five categories (Average, Runs, Hits, ERA and WHIP) and enter the 2022 season ranked in the top 20 in five national polls (#14 - Collegiate Baseball Newspaper; #18 - Baseball America; #19 – NCBWA; #19 - USA Today Coaches Poll; #20 - D1Baseball.com)
LOUISIANA vs. 2021 NCAA PARTICIPANTS
Louisiana’s 2022 schedule features 16 games against eight schools which competed in the 2021 NCAA postseason. The teams are listed below with the number of games in parentheses:
Stanford (1) - NCAA College World Series
LSU (1) - NCAA Super Regionals
Arkansas (1) - NCAA Super Regionals
UC Irvine (3) - NCAA Regional finalist
South Alabama (3) - NCAA Regional finalist
Southern Miss (3) - NCAA Regional finalist
Louisiana Tech (2) - NCAA Regional finalist
McNeese (2) - NCAA Regional participant
ODDS AND ENDS
Since the beginning of the 1972 season, Louisiana is 30-20 overall in season-openers, is 36-14 overall in home openers and has produced 33 winning seasons during that span.
Since opening M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field in 1978, the Ragin’ Cajuns have posted a 30-14 record in home openers.
Louisiana wraps up its season-opening, four-game homestand on Tuesday at 6 p.m. against in-state rival and Southland Conference preseason favorite Southeastern Louisiana before heading west to face Stanford (2021 College World Series participant), Indiana and Arkansas (2021 NCAA Super Regional participant) at the Korbach Round Rock Classic at Dell Diamond in Round Rock, Texas.
Feb. 22 – Southeastern Louisiana, 6 p.m.
Feb. 25 – vs. Stanford, 1 p.m. (Dell Diamond – Round Rock, Texas)
Feb. 26 – vs. Indiana, 12 p.m. (Dell Diamond – Round Rock, Texas)
Feb. 27 – vs. Arkansas, 6 p.m. (Dell Diamond – Round Rock, Texas)
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