By: Louisiana Tech Athletic Communications
DALLAS, Tx (KMSS/KTAL) – A program-record and league-best five Diamond Dogs were named First Team All-Conference USA, as announced by the conference office on Tuesday afternoon.
Infielders Taylor Young and Hunter Wells, outfielder Parker Bates, utility man Manny Garcia and starting pitcher Jonathan Fincher occupied five of the 17 total spots on the C-USA First Team list. The five Bulldogs earning first-team honors is a new program record, surpassing a previous best of three first-team recipients during head coach Lane Burroughs’ first season in charge of the Bulldogs in 2017.
LA Tech’s five honorees on the first team is one more than Southern Miss’ four first-team recipients and two more than Charlotte’s and Old Dominion’s three first-team honorees.
Young, LA Tech’s anchor at second base and captain in the infield, also became the first Bulldog to earn Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year honors. The West Monroe native was the only C-USA infielder with a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage in 2021. In 52 starts (51 at second base and one at shortstop), he has recorded 121 assists, 102 putouts and has turned 26 double plays all without committing an error.
The second baseman concluded the C-USA season ranked second in the nation and first in the conference with 65 runs scored. Tech’s leadoff batter also ranked fifth in the C-USA with a .452 on-base percentage, tied for ninth in the league with 14 doubles and tied for 10th in the C-USA with 100 total bases. His 37 walks not only ranked fourth in conference, but they also moved him into second place in Bulldog history in career walks.
Wells, who posted his team-best 24th and 25th multi-hit games against Old Dominion this past week, topped the C-USA in hits (76) and batting average (.369) at the end of the conference season. Wells also ranked third in the C-USA with 122 total bases, tied for fourth in the C-USA with 49 runs scored and tied for sixth in the league with 15 doubles. Tech’s third baseman needs just 10 hits to not only surpass his own single-season record of 91 hits, but to also set a new Bulldog record with 270 career hits.
Bates, a NCWBA First Team Preseason All-American, has put together an incredible season in his final year as a Bulldog. Tech’s longtime centerfielder has started all 52 games in center this season, sporting a perfect fielding percentage despite facing 113 chances in the outfield. Bates shined brightest in his 30 league games, leading the C-USA with a .406 batting average and a .523 on-base percentage against conference opponents.
Overall, he ranked third in the league in on-base percentage (.465), seventh in RBI (49) and sixth in the league with a .348 batting average. Just one day before the Bulldogs clinched the C-USA’s West Division title, Bates launched a three-run walk-off homer against UTSA to keep the Bulldogs in the division title race.
Garcia, LA Tech’s leader with 18 doubles, earns his first all-conference honors after a breakout senior season for the Diamond Dogs. The Caguas, Puerto Rico native played in all 52 games with 35 starts at first base, 12 starts at DH and four starts in the outfield. Garcia’s 18 doubles at the end of the conference season also ranked third in the C-USA, while his 44 RBI ranked tied for ninth in the league and his 99 total bases ranked tied for 12th in conference. The utility man’s two-out, two-run walk-off home run against Southern Miss on April 18 helped the Bulldogs notch a 5-3 advantage in the season series against the Golden Eagles.
Fincher, LA Tech’s Friday night ace and fifth first-team honoree, led qualifying Conference USA pitchers with a league-low .202 batting average against him. Fincher also ranked second in the league with 80.1 innings pitched and third with a 2.58 ERA. His seven pitching victories ranked fourth in the league, two of which were complete-game shutouts. Fincher recorded LA Tech’s first complete-game one-hitter in 10 years with a masterful performance at Tulane on March 19, allowing just two baserunners in a 2-0 victory.