By T. Scott Boatright
History will be made today as No. 16 overall seed Louisiana Tech will host its first NCAA Regional in program history when the Bulldogs open their ninth regional appearance against Rider (23-16). First pitch at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park is set for 6 p.m.
The Ruston NCAA Regional bill be Tech’s ninth appearance in the NCAA postseason and its second since 2016. The Bulldogs went 2-2 in their most recent trip to an NCAA Regional, defeating Southeastern Missouri 9-4 before knocking off Cal State Fullerton 6-2 in back-to-back elimination games in Starkville, Mississippi.
The Bulldogs are 11-16 all-time in NCAA Regionals. With three victories this weekend, Tech can advance to its first NCAA Super Regional appearance in school history.
With a win on Friday night, the Diamond Dogs would advance in the winner’s bracket to play the winner of today’s 1 p.m. contest pitting No. 2 seed North Carolina State (30-17) against No. 3 seed Alabama (31-24) at 6 p.m. on Saturday.
Should they lose tonight’s game, the Bulldogs would face the loser of the first game of the day on Friday between the Wolfpack and Crimson Tide at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
The Louisiana Tech vs. Rider contest will be the first meeting between the two schools.
Tech, which played six games in five days during a rollercoaster of a C-USA Tournament, will face a Rider team that went a perfect 5-0 in the MAAC Tournament to earn an automatic-qualifying bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Broncs’ victory over heavily-favored Fairfield (37-3), who made the NCAA Tournament with an at-large bid, marked their first Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference title since 2010.
Tech ranks third nationally with 600 hits, 11th nationally with a .308 batting average, tied for sixth nationally with 123 doubles and 17th nationally with a .482 slugging percentage.
The Bulldogs’ offense combined with a pitching staff that ranks tied for second nationally with eight shutouts helped the Tech post its sixth 40-win season in program history.
Louisiana Tech’s Jonathan Fincher (7-3, 3.12 ERA, 81 strikeouts) is set to start on the mound for the Diamond ‘Dogs while Rider’s ace Pete Soporowski will be the opening pitcher for the Broncs.