Just minutes after the last out was recorded on Louisiana Tech’s 11-6 win over No. 8 ranked LSU, the train rode past JC Love Field at Pat Patterson Park headed west.
Normally tagged as the Rally Train by Tech fans, this was the Victory Train on Wednesday night.
Bulldogs players circled the field, high fiving students in The Kennel and fans along Tailgate Tent Ally after an impressive – and statement-making – victory that saw the Bulldogs lead from start to finish.
Despite temperatures that were in the low 40s at first pitch and dipped down to the mid-30s throughout much of the game along with a constant drizzle or mist, a packed house of 2,529 braved the elements to watch Tech improve to 4-0 on the young season.
“Look I don’t know if I had stayed out here the whole time if I wasn’t invested,” said Tech head coach Lane Burroughs. “Our fans came out. Not only did the show up, but they stayed the whole game. I don’t know what I can say about them. They have been behind us. They have lifted us up so many times, and they did again tonight. It was electric out here tonight. Tip of the cap to our fans.”
The Bulldog players wanted to talk as much about their fan base following the game as they did the actual win.
“Despite the bad conditions, we had people out here at 3:30 just getting ready,” said senior Cade Gibson, who struck out a career-high eight in the win. “It was electric. I love my teammates. We always have a good crowd. They are nothing but supportive, and I love them to death. It was a great environment.”
“It was awesome,” said Taylor Young, who was 3-for-4 with 4 RBI on the night. “The fans came out and supported us. The Kennel was rocking. I don’t think there was an open seat in the house. It was freezing cold. Credit to our fans for sticking it out. They were awesome.”
Gibson, the hometown boy, got the start on the mound and was strong from the very start, pumping in strike after strike, consistently getting ahead of batters all night. Outside of allowing a two-run home to LSU’s Brayden Jobert in the top of the fourth, Gibson was almost unhittable by an LSU lineup that scored 51 runs in three games opening weekend.
“Cade Gibson set the tone,” said Young. “He threw all of his pitches for strikes. It all started with him.”
Young had a little something to do with Tech’s success. His triple in the bottom of the first helped Tech get off to a good start as the Diamond Dogs plated two runs in the first. His double drove home a run as Tech upped its advantage to 4-0 in the second.
And his two-run home run to The Kennel in the bottom of the seventh pushed the Tech lead out to 11-4.
“The pitcher was down 2-0 (in the count), and he threw a fastball down middle,” said Young of the home run. “I took a big hack, and I whiffed and fell to a knee. Ironically, the catcher said ‘Take a hack, huh?’ as the pitch was basically in mid-air at 2-1. All that was going through my mind was another fastball was coming and he threw it threw. I put a good swing on it, and fortunately it went out.”
Gibson (1-0) got the win, allowing three runs on three hits and only one walk in 5.0 innings of action. Ryan Jennings, Greg Martinez, and Kyle Crigger then combined to work the final 4.0 innings, allowing three runs while striking out six.
“They have such great hitters,” said Gibson. “We had a great game-plan going in. We were going to cross count with a bunch of stuff. If they were ahead in the count, we were going to go off speed and try to mix it up so we wouldn’t show a pattern. It was just a great game plan.”
The Ruston native added he had a little motivation heading into the night.
“I didn’t forget what they did to me my first DI outing,” said Gibson. “I gave up the lead with a grand slam against one of their great hitters. I didn’t forget that feeling.”
While some baseball fans across the country may be surprised by the final score, Young was not.
“We won,” said Young. “We expected that. We didn’t expect them to come out here and lay down for us, and they didn’t. We took it to them and were on the attack all night.”
Photo: Tom Morris
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