LA Tech wins midweek pitching duel with Air Force

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RUSTON — In the first start of his collegiate career, senior righty Landon Tomkins pitched three shutout innings and three relievers combined for six scoreless innings and only one hit surrendered – just three as a staff – in a 5-0 Tech win in Game 1 of a two-game set against Air Force before 2,166 on a chilly Tuesday night at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park.

After walking the only five batters he faced in Tech’s loss at Arkansas Sunday, Tomkins (3-0) left two on in the second and three in the third, but got two of his six strikeouts to end both innings after a 1-2-3 first.

He gave up two of the Falcons three hits as the bullpen was dynamic. Alec Sparks pitched two innings, Ryan Harland pitched three innings of one-hit ball, and senior lefty Jonathan Fincher, who took the loss in Game 1 in Arkansas as the Friday starter, added the exclamation point by striking out the side on 10 pitches.

Tech (9-7) and Air Force (5-12) are scheduled to play at 3 Wednesday on a getaway day for the Falcons.

“Extremely great to get back in the win column,” Tech coach Lane Burroughs said; the Dogs lost three last weekend in Fayetteville and did not pitch or play well, Burroughs said after that series.

“I could not be more proud of the staff,” he said. “They’d been talked about, ridiculed, yelled at – mostly by me. And all they did tonight was pitch a shutout with 17 strikeouts.”

Fincher closed the game with pitches between 89-94 miles per hour.

“That’s what it’s supposed to look like, not 83 (mph) like we saw in Fayetteville,” Burroughs said. “Just told him that’s what we need this Friday (at 6 when he starts and the Bulldogs open CUSA play against visiting Charlotte.)”

The Bulldogs gave Tomkins and the staff a 2-0 lead in the first and made their seven hits on the night count.

Brody Drost walked to lead things off, Ethan Bates doubled him to third, Dalton Davis knocked in Drost and Karson Evans, the freshman getting his fourth straight start, this time at catcher, hit a sac fly.

While the pen held the lead, the Dogs got some breathing room in the sixth. Shortstop Logan McLeod battled for a two-out walk – “Big at-bat,” Burroughs said – on a 3-2 pitch and second baseman Jeffrey Ince, getting his third start in seven game appearances, unloaded to The Kennel to make it 4-0 with his second homer of the year.

Tech added an insurance run in the eighth when Adarius Myers singled sharply to left and, running on the pitch, scored easily on a double by Jonathan Hogart, his second double of the year and first RBI.

A few players, including catcher Jorge Corona and designated hitter Walker Burchfield, are battling a contagious bug picked up in Fayetteville and will not be with the team Wednesday.

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