HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Cade Gibson delivered the first pitch of the game at 12:30 p.m.
Almost eight hours later, Wade Elliott retired the final batter of the game on a ground out as Louisiana Tech overcame a more than five-hour weather delay in blanking Charlotte 4-0 in the opening day of the 2022 Conference USA Championships at Pete Taylor Park.
The Bulldogs (39-18) capitalized on two first inning 49ers errors and a two-run blast by Adarius Myers to score four runs in the first inning and three Tech pitchers combined for the shutout, the first time in 56 games that Charlotte has been shut out this year.
Gibson (6-4) worked the first three innings before the skies opened up and the lightning sent both teams and fans to shelter. More than five hours later, the Bulldogs returned to the field and so did Gibson, who tossed two more shutout frames.
“He is a fifth-year senior and he has earned the right to go back out there,” said Tech head coach Lane Burroughs. “Trust me, we talked about it for the entire time we were (in the delay) how ever many hours it was. What a gutsy effort by Cade. That’s a long time off after 40 pitches. That’s a gutsy effort to get us through five. I am very proud of him.”
Following the rain delay, Charlotte turned to its ace Spencer Giestling who recorded 11 strikeouts over the final five innings, holding the Bulldogs off the scoreboard.
“Giestling is good,” said Burroughs. “he is as good as we have seen all year. He did that to us last Thursday. It’s a really good breaking ball and there is not much you can do with it. We left some runs out there. We had multiple times with a runner on third and less than two outs, and we couldn’t get it done. But our guys hung with it and we pitched really well.”
But Jonathan Fincher followed Gibson on the mound for Tech, tossing 3.0 scoreless innings while allowing just two hits.
“Jonathan was as good as he has been all year,” said Burroughs. “He was phenomenal.”
Kyle Crigger came on in the ninth and allowed two base runners before a punch out and a ground ball to Elliott ended the ball game.
“You hand the ball to Crigger and it is lights out,” said Burroughs.
Tech will face Old Dominion at 4 p.m. Thursday. The Monarchs defeated Middle Tennessee 18-7 in Wednesday’s first game.
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