Diamond Dogs host Shockers in opening weekend

It’s been just eight long months since the final out was recorded in Louisiana Tech’s season-ending loss to North Carolina State in the Ruston Regional final at JC Love Field at Pat Patterson Park.

Following that game it was a Louisiana gumbo of emotions on the field as Bulldog players, coaches and family and friends hugged, cried, laughed and celebrated a memorable season that most in Ruston won’t soon forget.

Fast forward.

It’s a new season and a new team but the same excitement that blanketed JC Love Field sellout crowds in late May and early June is once again prevalent around Tech baseball.

Tonight a possible sell-out crowd will cheer on Tech as it opens a three-game series against Wichita State. First pitch is at 6 p.m.

Fans can hear the game on 97.7 FM and the Louisiana Tech Athletics app while it will be streamed on CUSA.tv ($$).

The Bulldogs finished 2021 with a 42-20 overall record and 22-8 record in conference play.  LA Tech won the Conference USA West Division, hosted the conference tournament and became a host for the NCAA Regionals for the first time in program history.

“Every year and every team is different,” said Tech head coach Lane Burroughs. “We lost some great players to graduation, but we have a lot of experience and talent with the group we have back. This group wants to make its own mark. I’m excited to see what this group can do.”

The Bulldogs return the majority of the starting lineup led by seniors Taylor Young, Steele Netterville and Philip Matulia. Young led the country in runs scored, coming around to score 83 times.

Jonathan Fincher, Ryan Jennings and Jarret Whorff return to the mound as the probable weekend starters for this season. Fincher has earned numerous accolades this offseason including C-USA Preseason Pitcher of the Year and a third team Preseason All-American by D1Baseball.

Wichita State rolls into 2022 coming off a 31-23 overall record, finishing third in the American Athletic Conference with an 18-13 mark. The Shockers went 10-10 in road games with a 13-10 record on the road in 2021

Wichita State Head Coach Eric Wedge enters his third season and holds a 44-25 overall record since taking over the program. Wedge led the Shockers to their best finish in the American Athletic Conference since joining in 2018.

Right-hander Jace Kaminska will take the mound Friday night for Wichita State after a dominant freshman season. Kaminska tossed 62.0 innings, posting an 8-1 record with a 2.32 ERA and a 51/19 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

True freshman southpaw Payton Tolle will start in Saturday’s afternoon game and right-handed sophomore Will Stevens will get the nod in the finale on Sunday.

The Bulldogs and Shockers have met six times. The home team is undefeated as LA Tech swept Wichita State in 2017 in Ruston (6-2, 15-1, 12-10) and the Shockers took the last three games in Wichita in the shortened 2020 season (6-2, 5-3, 10-9).


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