By: Tyler Hotz/Louisiana Tech Athletics
RUSTON, La. – Four home runs and 15 base hits powered No. 17 Louisiana Tech to a 16-1 victory over the UAB Blazers in Thursday night’s series opener at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park. Thursday night’s game ended after seven inning as the Bulldogs held a 15-run advantage after the top of the seventh.
LA Tech blew the contest wide open in the second inning, tallying eight straight hits to push across nine runs in the second frame. The Bulldogs hammered three of their four home runs of the night in the second inning, marking the first time since Feb. 16, 2020, that Tech has scored eight runs or more in a single frame.
Catcher Kyle Hasler, third baseman Hunter Wells and first baseman Manny Garcia all delivered multi-run homers in the nine-run inning. Hasler’s three-run shot put the Bulldogs on the board first for the 17th time in 24 games this season, blasting a three-run shot to left field for his first home run of the year. Wells registered a three-run blast of his own just a few batters later, doubling Tech’s lead to 6-0 with just one out.
After an RBI double from right fielder Steele Netterville made it 7-0, Garcia crushed a two-run homer off the dormitories beyond the left-field wall to push across Tech’s final two runs of the inning. In total, LA Tech recorded nine hits, six of which were for extra bases, in the big Bulldog inning.
“There’s not much to say,” head coach Lane Burroughs said. “When you get nine in one inning and go up 9-0 with Fincher on the mound, it’s going to be tough sledding for the other team.
“It was an offensive night, and we put up some runs. It was good to have Corona and McConnell back in the lineup tonight. Corona just lengthens our lineup, and he’s a really, really good hitter. His at-bats were outstanding tonight.”
With a 9-0 lead, Bulldog ace Jonathan Fincher worked quickly to nail down his fifth pitching victory of the season. Fincher allowed just five hits and one run to notch his second complete game of 2021. The left-hander tallied five strikeouts in the strong pitching performance.
After a pair of RBI walks, an RBI single from shortstop Alex Ray and a sacrifice fly from leadoff batter Taylor Young, the ‘Dogs held a 13-1 advantage entering the sixth inning. Adarius Myers then entered the game as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the sixth, launching a 3-1 pitch well beyond the left-field wall for LA Tech’s third three-run homer of the evening. Myers’ first home run of the season marked Tech’s first pinch hit homer since Shelton Wallace accomplished the feat on May 9, 2018.
Five Bulldogs – Wells, Hasler, Ray, Jorge Corona and Parker Bates – tallied multi-hit performances in Thursday’s series opener. Corona made his first appearance in the Bulldog lineup since entering the series finale at Tulane on March 21. Bates recorded a team-high three hits for the Bulldogs in the victory, going 3-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI. Bates has now tallied back-to-back games with three-hit performances.
Thursday night’s win also marked the return of Cole McConnell, who started the game in left field. At the dish, Hasler turned in his best performance of the season, going 2-for-3 with a home run, three RBI and three runs scored.
LA Tech notched its first contest with scoring 15 or more runs since the 2021 season opener against Air Force, which is when the Bulldogs also limited their opponent to just a single run in a dominant win.
The No. 17 Bulldogs will continue their series against the Blazers with a pair of seven-inning games on Friday. Friday’s doubleheader will begin at 2 p.m. at the Love Shack with right-hander Ryan Jennings toeing the rubber in game one.