LA Tech opens C-USA play with 2-1 win over Charlotte

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Pitching, Defense Propel Bulldogs to Victory in Conference Opener

RUSTON – A pair of early runs by Louisiana Tech was enough on a chilly Friday night as stellar pitching and defense did the rest in a 2-1 victory over Charlotte to open up Conference USA play at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park.

All three of those phases – hitting, pitching, and defense – were embodied by one Ethan Bates.

First, it was the defense as he made a sliding stop to his left at third base, which he threw over to second to get the force out to end the top of the first for Charlotte (6-11, 0-1 C-USA).

Then in his first at-bat, he sent a full-count pitch into the Kennel for a solo blast to give LA Tech (10-8, 1-0 C-USA) the early lead.

Fast forward to the ninth inning with the Bulldogs holding a slim 2-1 edge, and all Bates did was throw straight gas, striking out not one, not two, but three batters to pick up his third save of the season.

In between the first and ninth inning offensively was a lot of quality at-bats against Wyatt Hudepohl (1-2) who was coming off a 17-strikeout performance in his last outing on the bump. The ‘Dogs only punched out four times while also getting an RBI single by the freshman Karson Evans in the third.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Fincher (3-2) answered the call on the mound for LA Tech. The C-USA Preseason Pitcher of the Year showed his moxie, going 6.0 innings while allowing just one run (two-out RBI single by Cam Fisher in the fifth) on five scattered hits with four strikeouts.

Landon Tomkins was the bridge between Fincher and Bates, going 2.0 innings of shutout baseball that included two much-needed double plays. (Speaking of defense, must also mention the web gem of the night by Jonathan Hogart who in the third inning chased down a ball down the right field line, making the diving grab).

Head coach Lane Burroughs

“I thought this was the cleanest game we have played all year. We pitched extremely well. We competed our tails off at home plate. And we played great defense. We turned some key double plays. The energy was good. I thought this was our best game we have played all year.”

“[Jonathan Fincher] has been a winner for us ever since he has been here. We told him that last inning to go empty the tank. I thought he was outstanding and that is what we are used to him doing. And I thought [Landon] Tomkins was amazing in his two innings. [Ethan] Bates was absolutely electric at the end of the ball game.”

LA Tech and Charlotte will face off in game two of the series on Saturday. First pitch is set for 2 p.m. CT at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park.

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