By: Tyler Hotz (Louisiana Tech Athletics)
RUSTON, La (Louisiana Tech Athletics) – No. 14 Louisiana Tech will return home for its final six regular season games of the 2021 season, hosting UTSA for a four-game C-USA series to open its final home stand.
Friday-Sunday’s series will mark the eighth and final four-game conference series in 2021. All Conference USA series this season will consist of four games, one nine-inning game on Friday, two seven-inning games on Saturday and one final nine-inning game on Sunday.
Game times for the conference series at the Love Shack are 6 p.m. on Friday and 1 p.m. on Sunday. Saturday’s first contest of the doubleheader will begin at 2 p.m. with the second game being played around 45 minutes after the conclusion of game one.
The first three games of this weekend’s series will stream live on CUSA.tv. Sunday’s series finale will stream live on ESPN+.
LA Tech will be honoring its six seniors from the 2020 season, all of which returned for their extra year of eligibility in 2021, before Sunday afternoon series finale.
Game Times (Friday-Sunday): 6 p.m. | 2 p.m. & then Game 2 | 1 p.m.
Location: J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park
Live Video Stream: CUSA.tv | ESPN+ (Sunday only)
Radio/Streamed Radio Broadcast: KNBB 97.7 FM (Friday-Sunday) | latechsports.com (Friday-Sunday)
Projected Starting Pitchers (Friday-Sunday)
LA Tech:Jonathan Fincher (LHP), Ryan Jennings (RHP), Cade Gibson (LHP), Jarret Whorff (RHP)
Fincher: 7-0, 2.06 ERA, 74.1 IP, 65 K, 16 BB
Jennings (1): 4-3, 4.40 ERA, 61.1 IP, 57 K, 17 BB
Gibson (2): 3-3, 5.80 ERA, 49.2 IP, 46 K, 14 BB
Whorff: 8-1, 3.06 ERA, 67.2 IP, 58 K, 25 BB
UTSA: Pepper Jones (RHP), Jacob Jimenez (RHP), TBA, TBA
Jones: 0-2, 6.00 ERA, 15.0 IP, 13 K, 7 BB
Jimenez (1): 2-2, 2.79 ERA, 9.2 IP, 7 K, 5 BB
About the No. 14 Diamond Dogs:
Louisiana Tech returns home to J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park after its longest road stretch of the 2021 season, playing seven games over the past two weeks away from Ruston. LA Tech’s six-game stretch to close out the regular season is its second-longest home stand of the year.
In its first midweek matchup since ULM on March 23, the Bulldogs jumped ahead 4-0 over the first three frames at LSU. No. 14 LA Tech tallied a run in each of its first five frames against LSU pitching, plating a pair of runs in the first, fourth and fifth innings to score eight runs midway through the contest.
The Tigers’ offense, however, roared to life in the bottom of the third, starting a stretch of five consecutive innings with a run scored of their own. LSU ended up winning the midweek contest 16-8 in seven innings as strong storms entered the Baton Rouge area in the bottom of the seventh.
Four Bulldogs tallied multi-hit performances on Tuesday, including leadoff batter Taylor Young. Young knocked in two runs and collected a pair of base hits in the loss to the Tigers. Catcher Jorge Corona blasted a 405-foot home run on the first pitch in the fourth inning, marking his second homer over his past three games.
Young leads Conference USA and ranks third nationally with 56 runs scored, crossing home plate two more times than the next closest conference player. Third baseman Hunter Wells ranks second in the C-USA and tied for ninth nationally with 67 hits, trailing by just three hits for the conference lead in the category.
Despite having his start come to an abrupt end due to rain on Friday, left-hander Jonathan Fincher still ranks first in the C-USA with a 2.06 ERA and a .187 batting average against him this season. Fincher also ranks third with 74.1 innings pitched and is tied for third with seven pitching victories.
Defensively, Young is the only Conference USA infielder with a perfect fielding percentage this season. The second baseman has helped turn 23 double plays and has tallied 107 assists.
LA Tech holds an 11-13 all-time record against UTSA. The Bulldogs have won six of the past 10 meetings, winning four straight in the series behind a 13-0 road win in 2018 and a clean sweep of the Roadrunners in 2019.
UTSA completed one of its most successful conference weekends of the season this past weekend, earning a series split against then-No. 19 Old Dominion in San Antonio. The Roadrunners swept Saturday’s doubleheader, shutting out the Monarchs 11-0 in game two to secure its second victory of the series.
The Roadrunners sit at 13-14 in Conference USA this season and 21-21 overall, clinching a pair of C-USA series wins this season. In nonconference play, UTSA defeated in-state foe UT-Arlington two games out of three to earn a series victory over the current Sun Belt West Division leader.
Four Roadrunners with more than 150 at-bats this season are batting over .300, including power hitter Nick Thornquist, who is batting .335 with a team-high 12 home runs, 43 RBI, 99 total bases and .627 slugging percentage. Griffin Paxton (.348) and Joshua Lamb (.342) rank first and second on the team, respectively, in batting average while tying for a team-high 13 doubles.
This weekend’s matchup will feature the top two offensive teams in the C-USA in terms of batting average. The Roadrunners (.303) trail just the Bulldogs (.306) in batting average. UTSA also tops the conference with 71 HBPs and 26 sacrifice flies.
UTSA holds a 5.46 ERA as a pitching staff, ranking seventh in the C-USA in 2021. Right-handed pitcher Hunter Mason leads the Roadrunners with 44 strikeouts and six pitching victories. The Roadrunner pitching staff ranks 10th in conference with just 321 strikeouts on the season.
Second-year head coach Pat Hallmark took over the UTSA program in June 2019 after being named the 2019 Southland Conference Coach of the Year at Incarnate Word. Hallmark holds a 31-28 overall record at UTSA, going 10-7 in his first year during the COVID-19-shortened season.