After seeing his starters record all but five outs over the previous four games, Louisiana Tech head coach Lane Burroughs had to finally turn to his bullpen in Sunday’s series finale at Tulane.
And although it didn’t go without a number of stressful pitches in the ninth inning, Burroughs and Co. completed the three-game sweep over the Green Wave as Tyler Follis induced a ground ball out with the bases loaded in the 8-6 win on Sunday.
“Those were three hard outs to get today (in the ninth inning),” Burroughs said.
But the Diamond ‘Dogs bullpen made it a happy ride home to Ruston, where Tech brings a five-game winning streak into play against a rising ULM squad Tuesday at 6 p.m. at JC Love Field at Pat Patterson Park.
“ULM is playing really well,” Burroughs said. “They are a good team, an older team like us. They beat Ole Miss last weekend, beat Oklahoma State in a midweek and then won their first Sun Belt series this weekend. They are playing well and are well coached. I expect another great crowd. I am really looking forward to it. It’s our last midweek game on the schedule until May when we play LSU.”
Tech (14-5), coming off victories over No. 1 Arkansas and No. 4 Ole Miss, got brilliant pitching in the first two games in New Orleans. The Bulldogs won 2-0 and 4-0 on Friday and Saturday behind complete-game gems from Jonathan Fincher (3-0) and Ryan Jennings . Fincher needed just 95 pitches in a one-hit, complete game shutout Friday. Jennings (2-1) used 119 pitches in his two-hit, complete game goose egg of the Green Wave on Saturday.
So when Jarrett Whorff, coming off a complete-game shutout of top-ranked, previously unbeaten Arkansas one week ago, only went 6.0 innings on Sunday, Burroughs had to do something he hasn’t done much of recently … go to the pen.
“I thought the way we won, a couple of different ways, this weekend was good for us,” said Burroughs. “We didn’t use a single reliever in the first two games and then had to use three just in the ninth inning today. We were up early and then got behind.
“It was good to see our guys fight back on the road in front of a hostile environment. It showed our maturity. Our experience really showed up today. I am very very proud of the guys. We had some big hits throughout the lineup. It just seemed like it was somebody different throughout the day today.”
Sunday’s game saw Tech grab an early 3-0 lead on an RBI double by Steele Netterville and a two-run home run by Manny Garcia in the top of the first. However, unlike the first two games, Tulane found some offense and took a 4-3 lead after plating two in the first and two more in the second against Whorff (4-1).
“I’m proud of Jarrett,” Burroughs said. “He didn’t have his best stuff today and he still competed his tail off. And Tyler Follis, the grizzly old veteran, came in and got the final out. None of it was easy.
“It was good for us to go through that today as we get ready for Conference USA play, especially on the road. This was really the first series we have played on the road this year, and it was against a good team in a hostile environment. To get behind and fight back was probably good for us. Today was definitely more of a hitter’s day. We drove a couple of them out of the park. We just never quit.”
Tech rallied with three runs in the top of the sixth, as Netterville doubled home one run and Adarius Myers singled home two more. Leading 6-5 in the eighth, Hunter Wells homered and Parker Bates scored on a sacrifice fly by Garcia.
Tulane loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth, trailing by just two, but Follis retired the Green Wave cleanup hitter on a full-count pitch to end the game.
Photo by TOM MORRIS