Former Louisiana Tech University Dan Reneau had a well-known catchphrase he often used — “red-letter day.”
I think Dr. Reneau would be proud for me to call the past few days a “red letter weekend” for Tech and especially the Diamond ’Dogs baseball program.
History has been made as despite not winning the championship game in a hard-fought 7-5 loss to Old Dominion Sunday afternoon in front of a packed house on J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park, the Bulldogs’ magical performance was enough to earn them the right to host a NCAA Regional Tournament next weekend.
That announcement from the NCAA came Sunday night. The full NCAA Baseball Tournament Bracket will be announced at 11 a.m. today.
It was an incredible weekend. It’s going to be an incredible upcoming week.
But in the midst of all of that, it’s Saturday, May 29, 2021, that will be long remembered in the annals of Louisiana Tech Athletics lore.
I’ve been a Louisiana Tech sports fan my entire life and I’ve experienced many thrilling moments because of it.. I’ll never forget the football playoff win over Jerry Rice and Mississippi Valley State … the Dunkin’ Dogs vs. OU in the Elite Eight … the Bulldogs vs. Colorado State in 1990 — the game before the incredible Independence Bowl tie vs. Maryland. And multiple national championships for the Lady Techsters.
That past weekend ranks up there with all of those moments.
But it was Saturday that was something truly special as the Bulldogs had to defeat Southern Mississippi twice to reach Sunday’s C-USA Championship Game.
The atmosphere was simply electric. You could FEEL — SMELL — the fact that Tech and Southern Miss HAVE become true rivals. Our daughter has been to many Tech athletics events over the years. But she had never experienced anything close to Saturday as Tech rallied back to defeat the Golden Eagle 11-10 in a 10-inning affair in the afternoon showdown.
And as that game ended some of the Golden Eagles started getting a little chippy, firing up Tech fans even more. Southern Miss and Tech have become true rivals and that has been shown no stronger than the past baseball.
Here’s a breakdown of Tech vs. Southern Miss during 2021 regular season play alone:
• March 26: Tech 3, USM 2
• March 27: USM 14, Tech 6
• March 27: Tech 4, USM 0
• March 28: Tech 8, USM 7
• April 17: USM 4, Tech 3
• April 17: Tech 5, USM 3
• April 18: USM 12, Tech 11
• April 18: Tech 7, USM 6
That gave Tech a 5-3 season series heading into the C-USA Baseball Tourney, where the rivalry would only get more heated.
USM defeated Tech 4-1 on Thursday, sending the Bulldogs’ for the remainder of the tournament. And fate reunited the teams for that magical Saturday showdown in which Tech was victorious in both “must-win” games, with the Cardiac Dogs taking both in dramatic walk-off fashion.
Eleven times the Bulldogs and Golden Eagles battled this season, with Tech winning seven of those contest.
It was all exciting enough to obviously catch the NCAA’s attention as the Bulldogs became the only C-USA team to be rewarded by hosting a Regional Tournament starting later this week.
One projected bracket on Sunday had Tech as the No. 1 seed and being joined in Ruston by No. 2 seed Florida State, No. 3 seed LSU and No. 4 seed South Alabama. I would definitely take that field, or any, because history will continue being made at The Love Shack.
Being barely two years removed from some of Ruston’s darkest days following the EF3 tornado that ripped through the area, taking two lives and doing all kinds of damage, including the destruction of the original J.C. Love Stadium, makes what is happening now both that much more special, but also surreal.
Saturday truly was a red-letter day for Louisiana Tech and its baseball program. It was a red-letter weekend. And I have no doubt we’re in store for a red-letter week as the Diamond ’Dogs prepare to host the first NCAA Regional ever to be held in Ruston.
In the legendary words of Dave Nitz, “you gotta love it.”
How ’bout them Dogs!!