Avoiding the trap: Ranked Diamond ‘Dogs host struggling Herd

Louisiana Tech’s Taylor Young slides into home during last weekend’s series against USM. Photo by DARRELL JAMES.

Staff writer

It’s a scary weekend if you are Louisiana Tech baseball skipper Lane Burroughs.

The Bulldogs are coming off one of the most exciting four-games series in program history with its four-game split against Southern Miss, capped by Sunday’s two-run walk-off home run by Manny Garcia on the final pitch of the weekend.

A week later, the matchup appears a mismatch. The nationally-ranked Bulldogs (26-9, 12-4 C-USA) welcome Conference USA cellar dweller Marshall (6-22, 2-14) to the Love Shack.

With the weather forecast calling for Mother Nature to impact tonight’s opening contest and Marshall’s travel plans affecting Sunday, all three start times for the weekend have been changed.

Today’s nine-inning contest will now start at 2 o’clock this afternoon. Saturday’s doubleheader (two 7-inning tilts) will start at 11 a.m. and Sunday’s finale will begin at 10 a.m.

No single game tickets will be sold for this weekend as the Love Shack is already at 50 percent capacity per state guidelines.

It took no effort at all to get juiced up for last weekend’s series with USM. This weekend, Marshall doesn’t appear to pose a threat. It’s a trap game – or series.

Nothing is scarier for the head coach of the 14th ranked team in the country.

“I know everybody is going to look at Marshall’s record, but Marshall has always given us trouble,” Burroughs said. “They’re very athletic offensively and have good arms. They were able to beat FIU in two games this past weekend, so we’ve got to be ready.

“If you don’t respect your opponent and don’t respect the game, then you’ll get your teeth kicked in. I know our guys will be up to the task. They’ve answered the bell all year long. I’m excited about another Conference USA weekend.”

Now, Burroughs has to make sure his team is just as excited.

Intensity and focus hasn’t been an issue for Tech this season as the Bulldogs have made a historic rise in the national polls over the past two months.

Although Garcia’s home run Sunday sent aftershocks into the 50 percent capacity crowd at JC Love Field at Pat Patterson Park – as well as the Conference USA West Division standings – Burroughs said in baseball good teams must control their level of excitement.

“It’s not football,” Burroughs said. “You aren’t running down on a kickoff and hitting people so you have to dial it back a little bit. We like to talk about a scale of 1 to 10. Ten being we are running through a brick wall. One being we are sitting here having coffee and talking.

“You kind of want to dial it down to a three when you are hitting or playing baseball. If you are too amped up or too intense, I think it can work against you. You have to find that happy medium. As far as the intensity of wanting to win and knowing what is at stake, I don’t think there are any problems with our team. Our guys want to win.”

Win is what the Tech guys have done, against the best in the country and the best in the league.

The question is, can the Bulldogs bring the same intensity into a weekend series against a Thundering Herd squad that has struggled all season – outside of a midweek win over West Virginia in March?

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