After Texas-San Antonio grabbed a 6-5 lead with a two-spot in the top of the fourth inning, the public address announcer at JC Love Field at Pat Patterson Park received arguably the biggest ovation of the day.
“Finals from around Conference USA: Florida Atlantic 9, Southern Miss 6.”
The announcement had already resonated in the Bulldog dugout, after Tech skipper Lane Burroughs listened to second year assistant coach Matt Miller’s advice.
“When I saw Gerald Jordan in our dugout, I knew something was up,” Burroughs aid. “I was like, ‘uh oh. What’s wrong?’ He said ‘FAU beat Southern Miss. Do you want us to announce it?’
“As a coach I am overthinking it. Matt Miller said ‘heck yes, announce it. Tell the team!’ So we did. Matt is closer to these guys’ age and I listened to his advice. Taylor Young shouted it out. I thought it inspired us. I thought we took it to another level. Taylor’s exact words were ‘We are playing for a championship. Let’s go!’”
And go the Bulldogs did.
Tech (36-14, 22-8 C-USA) used a 7-run fifth and a 5-run seventh to blow open a tight game.
Hunter Wells’ two-run double down the right field line plated runs 16 and 17 and ended the game as Tech prevailed 17-7 on the 10-run rule.
“We never let down,” said Wells, who had two hits and four RBI in the win. “We never let off the gas. No lead is safe with UTSA with the way they have been swinging the bats. You can just look up and down their lineup and they are just piecing balls all over the place. We knew offensively that we had to keep swinging it and just keep hitting the ball well.”
The victory gave the Bulldogs the series win. UTSA (22-24, 14-17) won Friday night’s game 7-5 before Tech swept Saturday’s doubleheader 4-1 and 10-7 in eight innings.
Tech trailed Southern Miss by a half game heading into Sunday’s finale. The Golden Eagles and Owls game started in Boca Raton two hours before Tech’s first pitch. USM led 5-1 heading to the bottom of the seventh but FAU scored six in the seventh and pulled out a 9-6 victory, setting the stage for the Bulldogs.
Once the news of USM’s loss spread through JC Love Field faster than a Jonathan Fincher fastball, the Bulldogs took their game to another level, outscoring the Roadrunners 12-0 over its final three at bats.
“It couldn’t have happened in a better way. It couldn’t have happened on a better day, on senior day,” said Burroughs. “I told (these seniors) if they stay here they would be champions. And now they are.”
The Bulldogs will close out their regular season Thursday and Friday with single non-conference games against Old Dominion in Ruston.
Tech will be the No. 2 seed in the upcoming C-USA Tournament hosted at JC Love Field. The Bulldogs will face UTSA at 4 p.m. May 26 in the first day of the eight-team tournament.