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Tech takes heartbreaking series loss

May 17, 2018

 

ANDREW BELL
Sports Editor | agb022@latech.edu

 

Junior third baseman Tanner Huddleston prepares a play at third. – Photo by Hannah Roundtree

Despite a hot start from the plate, the Louisiana Tech baseball team lost their game 3 rubber match against Middle Tennessee in barnburner fashion.

 

The Diamond ‘Dogs (32-17, 16-8 C-USA) fell to the Blue Raiders (24-23-1, 9-14-1 C-USA), losing 7-6 in what was only their second conference series loss of the season.

 

Spotty pitching and a lackluster day at the plate from the top of Tech’s lineup resulted in the defeat, a weekend before Tech’s momentous series matchup with Southern Miss, who is ranked No. 1 in the Conference USA.

 

Tech’s starting pitcher was junior southpaw David Leal, who had a rough day at the mound, pitching 4.1 innings while giving up eight hits, five earned runs and two walks. They rotated pitchers until landing on senior righty Kent Hasler, who pitched well in the final 2.1 innings with no hits, runs or walks, but it was to no avail.

 

Head coach Lane Burroughs was not pleased with his team’s performance and aired his grievances after huddling with his squad postgame.

 

“If we bring this effort to Southern Miss, it will get ugly,” Burroughs said. “We’re playing a real team this weekend. They’re a top ten team in the country and they’ve probably got the best pitcher in the country going up against us Friday night. The effort we had this weekend, and really the last two weekends at home, isn’t going to cut it next weekend.”

 

Tech batted an impressive .324 from the plate as a team but the top of the lineup — widely considered the strength of their team — struggled. Batting first was sophomore first baseman Hunter Wells who leads the team in batting average, but went a measly 0-for-4 from the plate. Senior shortstop Dalton Skelton went 0-for-3 with an RBI, a walk and two strikeouts and junior left fielder Mason Mallard batted 1-for-5 with a strikeout.

 

Burroughs and the ‘Dogs were a projected 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament before this series loss, according to collegesportsmadness.com.

 

“Clubs this time of year do one of two things,” Burroughs said. “They either wither away and they die because they’re tired and it gets hot or they start (going up). And which club are we going to be? That’s my question to our team. Are we going to wither away because it’s hot and we’re not mentally and physically tough enough or are we going to start (going up)? We’ve got a lot of ball in front of us, and we need to make the most of the games we have left.”

 

After facing Grambling State (23-22) May 9, Tech will head to Hattiesburg, Mississippi May 11-13 to face Southern Miss (35-12, 19-4 C-USA), the 11th ranked team in the nation, in a series with Conference championship and NCAA Tournament implications.

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