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Louisiana downs UC Irvine in second meet-up, 7-4

Kimple, Theut spark Ragin’ Cajuns in Saturday matinee
Carson Roccaforte Cajuns Baseball 2021
Posted at 8:30 PM, Feb 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-19 21:30:43-05

LAFAYETTE – For the second straight day, No. 14-ranked UC Irvine used a big fifth inning to erase an early two-run deficit. But after falling behind when the Anteaters used a three-run to take a 4-3 lead, the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Baseball team responded with a big fifth-inning of their own.

Connor Kimple sparked a three-run fifth inning with a two-run home run – his second in as many days – and Louisiana got stellar relief pitching from Jacob Schultz and Dylan Theut to lead the Ragin’ Cajuns to a 7-4 victory over UC Irvine before an announced crowd of 4,263 on Saturday at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park.

The series finale is scheduled for a 12 p.m., first pitch with Louisiana (1-1) sending senior right-hander Jeff Wilson to the mound for his first career start. UC Irvine (1-1) will counter with freshman right-hander Danny Suarez who will make his collegiate debut. The game will be streamed live on ESPN+ and can be heard in the Lafayette area on KPEL-FM 96.5.

Tyler Robertson had three hits, an RBI and a stolen base for Louisiana, which dropped its season opener to UC Irvine by an identical score in Friday’s season-opener.

Peyton Havard, making his first career start, allowed a two-out walk and a pair of singles which allowed UC Irvine to take a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Justin Torres drew a two-out walk before moving to second on a Thomas McCaffery single and scoring on Jacob Castro’s RBI single to right.

Louisiana would take a page out of the Anteaters’ attack from Friday as the Ragin’ Cajuns opened with four straight singles off starter Nick Pinto (0-1), including bunt singles by Robertson and Kyle DeBarge to load the bases.

Kimple then singled through the right side to drive in Max Marusak and Robertson before Carson Roccaforte’s sacrifice fly gave Louisiana a 3-1 lead.

Havard, which pitched a career-high 4.0 innings while allowing a pair of hits with two strikeouts, issued a leadoff walk to Nathan Church in the third inning before getting Torres to ground into a double play and retiring Castro on a grounder to third.

UC Irvine would score three times in the fifth inning to claim a 4-3 lead as the Anteaters put runners on the corners after a hit batter and a by Woody Hadeen. Church’s RBI single off pitcher Chipper Menard’s glove would score Taishi Nakewake before Castro singled up the middle to drive in Hadeen and Church and give UC Irvine a 4-3 lead.

Louisiana would answer in the bottom half of the frame as the Ragin’ Cajuns took advantage of a pair of Anteater errors. Max Marusak reached first after being hit by a pitch before stealing second and moving to third on a throwing error. Robertson then tied the game with an infield single before Kimple gave Louisiana a 6-4 lead when he belted his second home run of the season.

The Ragin’ Cajuns added an insurance run to take a 7-4 lead in the seventh after Marusak drew a walk, stole second, moved to third on a Robertson bunt single and scored on a double play grounder.

Schultz (1-0), the third of four pitchers used by Louisiana, tossed 2.0 hitless innings and fanned a pair of batters for the Ragin’ Cajuns before Theut pitched the final 2.1 innings with four strikeouts for his first career save.

Castro led UC Irvine at the plate going 2-for-5 with three RBI. Pinto pitched five innings for the Anteaters and allowed six runs – three of them earned – with a pair of walks and five strikeouts.

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