Veteran-laden LA Tech set to open 2019 baseball season at Southeastern Louisiana
RUSTON, La. – The Louisiana Tech baseball team will open the 2019 season on the road, taking on the Southeastern Louisiana Lions in a three-game series (Feb. 15-17) from Pat Kenelly Diamond at Alumni Field in Hammond, Louisiana.
Friday’s first pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m., followed by a 2 p.m. start on Saturday and 1 p.m. start for Sunday’s matinee.
The Bulldogs, bolstered by 24 returners on an experience-laden roster, will be looking to follow up on a 39-20 season in 2018, that ended just outside of a potential NCAA tournament berth.
Head coach Lane Burroughs will turn to a familiar pitching rotation for the weekend, calling on three seniors, who combined for 231 innings as the team’s primary weekend rotation last season.
Friday night’s starter Matt Miller will toe the rubber for the season opener after posting a 5-5 record in 2018 with an ERA of 4.20. Miller chewed up 79.1 innings and struck out 75 batters (10th most in C-USA in 2018), while walking 24 in 14 starts last year.
Miller will step in to fill the role of injured starter David Leal, who underwent surgery to repair an injured foot earlier this week. Leal was slated to step into the Friday-night role after posting a 2.27 ERA (4th-lowest in C-USA) over 87.1 innings pitched, primarily as a midweek starter in 2018.
On Saturday, Burroughs will hand the ball to 2018 Second-Team All-Conference USA member Logan Robbins, who went 7-1 in 14 starts last year. Robbins pitched into the sixth inning in nine of those starts, eating up 75.1 innings along the way.
The Bulldogs will round out the weekend rotation with yet another senior in southpaw Logan Bailey. The left-hander earned First Team All-Conference accolades last season and was named a 2019 Preseason All-American by the NCBWA earlier this month. In 2018, Bailey finished the year with a team-low 2.24 ERA (second-lowest in C-USA) and led the team with eight wins (8-1). Tech was 12-2 in his 14 starts (6-0 in league play).
Meanwhile, a host of familiar faces will lead the offensive charge for the Bulldogs, as the team returns eight of nine offensive starters, losing shortstop Dalton Skelton to graduation last year. The offense is highlighted by junior infielder Hunter Wells, who last season, set the program’s single-season hits record with 91 (most in C-USA).
Last year’s offense finished ranked among the top three C-USA teams in on-base percentage, runs scored, hits, RBI, doubles, triples, walks, hit-by-pitch and total bases.
The Bulldogs were picked to finish second in the Conference USA preseason coaches’ poll.
Meanwhile, Southeastern Louisiana features a lineup with 23 returners from last season’s team that posted a 37-22 overall record (21-9 in SLC).
The Lions will feature all right-handed pitchers, as senior Corey Gaconi (7-1, 3.15 ERA, 80.0 IP, 62 K/16 BB), sophomore Will Warren (1-1, 3.04 ERA, 23.2 IP, 18 K/17 BB) and redshirt senior Carlisle Koestler (7-1, 2.68 ERA, 87.1 IP, 73 K, 13 BB) make up head coach Matt Riser’s opening-weekend rotation.
The Bulldogs and Lions have not met since the 2015 season, where Southeastern Louisiana took a captured a three-game sweep from Hammond.
All three games will be streamed live through lionsports.net/watch (subscription required). Fans can tune into KNBB 97.7 FM for Friday’s and Sunday’s action, while Saturday’s game audio will be broadcast on KPCH 93.3 FM with Teddy Allen on the mic for the weekend.
Be sure to follow @LATechBSB on Twitter for in-game updates, photos and results. Also stay plugged into the home of Louisiana Tech Athletics at latechsports.com.
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