Burroughs, Bulldogs pick up first victory on the diamond

RUSTON, La. (Feb. 17, 2017) – Among a sea of returning talent, it was two newcomers who helped propel Louisiana Tech (1-0) to its first win of the Lane Burroughs era in the season opener on Friday night at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park.


Kent Hasler made his Louisiana Tech debut, tossing six innings of shutout baseball while true freshmen Parker Bates delivered a back-breaking three-run home run leading to an 11-0 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff.


“I am proud of our guys,” Burroughs commented on the win. “We played hard and had a great crowd. My goodness, what a great crowd. I want to thank everyone for coming out. I will never forget this night. It feels good to get this first one out of the way.”


Hasler was given the nod for the season opener on Monday afternoon and did not disappoint. The junior college transfer wasted no time settling in on Friday night, striking out the first two Golden Lion batters he faced. That would be the trend for the night as Hasler would go on to strike out seven over six innings pitched, allowing just three base runners over that stretch.


At the plate, Nathan Sawrie seemed to have the Bulldogs number early. LA Tech did not record their first hit until an infield single from Sean Ullrich in the bottom of the third. Ullrich would eventually come around to score on a throwing error by Arkansas-Pine Bluff shortstop Jaylen Jackson.


“I thought early on, we panicked a little bit offensively,” Burroughs said. “We were not getting hits or getting men on base to get [Sawrie] in the stretch. They started swinging at pitches out of the zone, which we don’t normally do.”


As Hasler continued to shut down the Golden Lion bats, the Bulldogs scratched and clawed for run support. After loading the bases on a walk, hit by pitch and error, senior Cody Daigle stepped in and delivered a two-RBI single up the middle to extend the Louisiana Tech lead out to 3-0.


With a 3-0 lead in hand and just three innings to go, Burroughs turned to the always reliable Nate Harris out of the pen.


After Harris faced the minimum through his first two frames, LA Tech finally broke through.


Golden Lion relief pitcher C.J. Lewington walked the first two batters, Daigle and Jonathan Washam, of the eighth inning and Bates made them pay. Down in the count, Bates went opposite field and deposited the 1-2 pitch beyond the right field wall for a three-run home run, which brought the Bulldogs lead to 6-0.


Bates became the first Bulldog to homer for his first career hit since Brent Diaz did the same in the 2015 home opener, which was coincidentally against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.


“Parker is a good ball player and he can really swing the bat,” Burroughs said. “I thought he really tiptoed his way through his first three at bats. He was not taking his type of swings. That is the first time he has played at this level with this type of crowd. He wants to impress and please everybody. We pulled him over and said ‘Be who you are and just get up there and take your swings,’ and he goes up there and knocks the ball out of the ball park to give us breathing room. I am proud of him.”


LA Tech would pile it on at that point. Following the home run, Dalton Skelton reached on an error, Jordan Washam singled and Raphael Gladu was hit by a pitch, Chase Lunceford would walk to force home the Bulldogs seventh run. Then came another big blow, this one courtesy of Brent Diaz who delivered a three-RBI triple off the top of the center field wall.


Diaz would score the final run of the game with some heads up base running, scampering home after catcher Jacob Giron overthrew pitcher Chris Phelps.


Harris closed the door in the ninth and the sounds of “Love Shack” by The B-52s echoed through J.C. Love Field, an ideal start to the 2017 season.


Despite pushing 11 runs across the plate on Friday night, the Bulldogs managed just five hits, all coming from different starters.


Louisiana Tech has now tossed shutouts in consecutive season openers for the first time in program history.


The Bulldogs and Golden Lions will be back at it against tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m. when senior right-hander Cameron Linck takes to the hill.The game will be broadcast on The Peach 99.3 and streamed live on CUSA.TV.

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