Diamond ‘Dogs steamroll Rice with Burroughs’ ejection igniting key rally

Photo by TOM MORRIS

Staff writer

When the nationally-ranked Louisiana Tech (24-7, 10-2 C-USA) baseball team mounted a series-swinging comeback win in game two of this weekend’s four-game set against the Rice Owls (13-18-1, 2-9-1), Bulldog skipper Lane Burroughs watched from pitcher Cade Gibson’s phone.

Trailing 6-2 in the top of the fifth inning of game one of Saturday’s doubleheader at Reckling Park, Burroughs was ejected for arguing a call at second base.

“I thought it was a really quick trigger, to be honest with you,” said Burroughs.

But it might have been just what the Bulldogs needed – a little extra motivation.

With Burroughs in the visitor’s locker room watching the game with Gibson – scheduled to start on the mound in game two of the DH – and Jonathan Fincher (Friday night’s winning pitcher), the Bulldogs rallied for two runs in the sixth and three more in the seventh to pull out the 7-6 win.

“I went to the visitor’s locker room and Cade was back there getting ready to pitch game 2,” said Burroughs. “He pulled the game up on his phone. Jonathan Fincher joined us, and we watched it together. I can tell you it is a lot less stressful watching in the locker room on a phone.”

The victory might have ultimately changed the direction of the entire series – a series that the Bulldogs swept to move to 24-7 on the season and 10-2 in C-USA play. Tech steamrolled Rice 20-6 in the second game of the DH before pulling out a 13-4 win in Sunday’s finale. Fincher pitched Tech to a 6-0 win in Friday’s opener.

“I don’t believe in momentum from day to day,” said Burroughs. “Each day is different. But in a doubleheader, no doubt momentum can carry over. If you look at the score of game two (20-6), it’s indicative of game 1. Rice went for it and emptied some their top guys out of the bull pen in game 1 (Saturday).

“I knew we had a chance in the top of the seventh with the top of the order coming to the plate. On the double play ball when the throw pulled the fielder off the bag at second base, I knew we were in business. The assistant coaches did a great job, the players did a great job, and we ultimately found a way to win.”

How good is this Tech team? The Bulldogs scored 46 runs in 32 innings of baseball in the four-game sweep of Rice at the Owls own ballpark. Tech did it without cleanup hitter and RBI leader Steele Netterville, held out this weekend recovering from an oblique strain.

“It’s been the story of our team all year,” said Burroughs. “One guy goes down and the next guy steps up. Anytime we have lost a player somebody seems to step up. We have some depth, and that’s why we are having the success we are having.

“We’ve had some injuries … some big ones. But when someone goes down, it’s the-next-man-up mentality. They are all competitors and everyone wants to play.”

It marks the first sweep by Tech over Rice in the program’s history.

Tech, ranked as highly as 16th nationally, sits atop the West Division standings and will host Southern Miss (21-9, 8-3 C-USA) in a huge four-game C-USA series this weekend at JC Love Field at Pat Patterson Park.

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