UL’s three wins this weekend against UL-Monroe tells a broader story than just a sweep of the Warhawks heading into a non-conference home game against Nicholls State at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Russo Park.
In fact, the story started to take shape last weekend with a 2-1 series win over Coastal Carolina. Ragin’ Cajuns coach Matt Deggs said his baseball team is not a finished product, but the 5-1 Sun Belt Conference start is promising as the Cajuns enter the heart of the conference schedule.
“You are always growing and maturing and hopefully turning into a complete ballclub,” Deggs said. “I think we have taken a step in that direction over the last two weeks.”
Right fielder Carson Roccaforte, who set a school record Thursday with five stolen bases in a 9-5 win, said he has noticed a change in the team’s chemistry in conference play.
“Everybody is getting close to one another and playing together as a team,” Roccaforte said. “We are starting to execute every aspect of the game, and I think it is really coming together for us.”
Tyler Robertson, who went 2 for 5 with a double Saturday, said he thinks the resurgence in the lineup has come from getting back to a simple approach.
“For a little bit, we got away from our approach and we were striking out a lot,” Robertson said. “In these past two weeks, we have stuck to our approach and we’re seeing better pitchers. We’ve been walking more with two strikes and having a really good approach at the plate.”
The series finale saw the Cajuns fall behind 9-2 before exploding for six runs in the sixth inning and three more in the seventh. Deggs said none of the three wins against ULM were easy and that the 11-9 come-from-behind win Saturday taught him a lot about his team.
“ULM is a much improved team, and they are going to beat a lot of teams,” Deggs said. “We pitched well and swung well in the first one and (Friday) we won a close one.
“I think the only thing missing was a comeback win. That’s what we needed, and we got that (Saturday). To come back in that fashion is gigantic for your confidence.”
Deggs acknowledged the win would not have been possible with David Christie, who came in after ULM knocked out the first three Cajuns pitchers. Christie did not allow an earned run over five relief innings while striking out six. Deggs said the makeup of the Cajuns this year allows for a bevy of different players to play the hero role.
“David gave us a chance to win that ballgame,” Deggs said. “We kept going to guys and ultimately gave it to David and him being able to mix three pitches kept them off balance. There are a lot of different heroes on this team and some days, it is your chance to shine. David did that (Saturday).”
The Cajuns beat Nicholls 9-8 in Thibodaux earlier this season. Nicholls scored four runs in the eighth inning to make the game closer than it needed to be. Robertson said the key to beating the Colonels will be to not let up if they get ahead.
“They’re a really good team and they’re scrappy,” Robertson said. “If we can get up on them, we need to keep our foot on the gas pedal and not let them back into it.”
Deggs said he is finally seeing the grit he’s known the Cajuns have since fall ball come out on the diamond. He said Sunday’s comeback win can be a catalyst for breakthroughs the rest of the season.
“I think what was lacking on our résumé was a big comeback win,” Deggs said. “We finally broke through. These guys really enjoy each other and they play for each other. When they want to do their job for one another, that is when it really gets good.”