Cade Gibson received a standing ovation coming off the mound in the eighth inning of Tuesday night’s performance in Louisiana Tech’s 13-1 win against No. 4 Ole Miss.
The Ruston native had just thrown his 103rd pitch, giving up a double to Rebels leftfielder TJ McCants.
As Gibson walked toward his Bulldog teammates waiting to congratulate him with the hometown crowd cheering in the background, it brought back childhood memories.
“I saw Coach Burroughs coming out to get me,” said Gibson, who allowed one run on five hits over 7.1 innings in picking up the win. “As a competitor your first thought is always you never want to come out of the game. For (Tech head coach Lane Burroughs) to give me that opportunity to enjoy that moment was something special.
“I have always loved this city. Actually, I threw the first pitch out here for my 10th birthday. I’ve always wanted to play here. To get that opportunity to walk off the mound with everyone standing and clapping … it was something special for sure.”
As have the last three days for these Bulldogs.
A little more than 48 hours after knocking off No. 1 ranked Arkansas, Louisiana Tech (10-5) banged out 14 hits — including four straight doubles to lead off the game — in handing its second straight Top 5 ranked SEC team a loss.
“We challenged them today,” Burroughs said. “The majority of the scouting report today was the ability to put a big win Sunday behind you and not have any hangover into today. You don’t get too many opportunities to play back-to-back top 4 ranked teams in the country and an opportunities to beat both of them. These don’t come along very often. I am very proud of our guys. They put it behind them. That’s what great teams do.”
After Gibson worked a clean first inning, the Bulldog bats came to life. Taylor Young, Hunter Wells, Parker Bates and Steele Netterville all doubled off Ole Miss starter Josh Mallitz as Tech grabbed the 3-0 advantage.
It was all Gibson would need.
“Obviously, Cade was outstanding,” Burroughs said. “(I’m) Very proud of him. He has always wanted to play here. And he has been through so much. He has been here three years and he hadn’t stepped on the mound until this year. He had to sit out a year with the transfer rule. And then he had Tommy John surgery. He had to sit out another year. It’s been a long haul for him. For a hometown kid, I’m glad he got this moment.”
Gibson said he felt calm from the very first pitch.
“Honestly, I felt like I had no heartbeat,” Gibson said. “I haven’t had that up to this point. That’s why I felt like I’ve struggled. I just tried to go out there and throw, trust everything and just put it where the catcher set up.”
Tech added four runs in the fifth and sixth innings and two more in the seventh in handing Ole Miss (13-4) its most lopsided loss of the year. Young, Wells, Bates and Netterville each recorded two hits while Netterville also added four RBIs.
The Diamond ‘Dogs will next travel south this weekend to face Tulane in a three-game series on Friday through Sunday.
Photo by TOM MORRIS