Bulldogs split with Panthers in shortened baseball series

LA Tech’s Hunter Wells photo by JONATHAN MAILHES

Staff report

In Louisiana Tech’s four-game series in Miami against FIU, rain was the big winner.

First came the postponement of game one on Friday. Later came the cancellation of the Sunday doubleheader. The result — a two-game split between the Bulldogs and Panthers.

Despite only dropping one contest to FIU, the series was a big loss for LA Tech (33-12, 19-7 C-USA) because they were overtaken in the West Division by Southern Miss who swept its four-game series with Middle Tennessee.

Now, the Diamond ‘Dogs are half-a-game back going into the final conference weekend.

Here are the details of how it all went down.

Lightning forced the series opener to be delayed for about an hour, then undefeated Jonathan Fincher took to the mound. The Bulldogs, who have lost just one Friday night game all season, were cruising with a 4-1 lead in the fourth when heavy rain forced the postponement to Saturday.

A tough break because it meant Fincher was done for the weekend. FIU (18-28, 9-17 C-USA) took advantage, outscoring LA Tech 9-1 over the final five frames to notch a 10-5 victory.

The Panthers chipped away and eventually blew the game wide open with a five-run seventh inning.

The two teams waited 45 minutes and began game two of the series, a nine-inning game started by Ryan Jennings.

The matchup was tied at 2-2 entering the sixth inning when the fireworks really started. The Bulldogs smacked four hits in a four-run sixth to take their first lead of the ballgame. The Panthers struck right back, getting a three-run homer to slice the deficit down to one.

LA Tech came back with a big counterpunch in the top of the seventh inning though. After two singles and a walk to load the bases, Hunter Wells stepped to the plate with two outs. The senior quickly got behind in the count 0-2, but drove the third pitch of the at-bat over the right field wall for the team’s first grand slam of the season.

Cole McConnell and Alex Ray tallied an RBI single apiece in the top of the eighth to extend the Bulldog lead to 12-5 midway through the eighth. FIU tacked on a pair of runs in the final inning before LA Tech finished things off with the 12-7 victory.

Heavy rain came back into play on Sunday, affecting the field conditions too much to finish out the series with two seven-inning games still on the docket. It marked the first unfinished league series for LA Tech this season.

The Bulldogs will now fly to New Orleans today and then bus up to Baton Rouge where they will face the LSU Tigers at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday night at Alex Box Stadium.

Fans can watch a live stream of the game through SEC Network+. Links to live audio and stats can be found on the LA Tech Athletics app.

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