Diamond Dogs open defense of C-USA title today

Courtesy of LA Tech Athletic Communications

They may be the No. 6 seed in the upcoming Conference USA Championship, but they are the reigning champions.

Head coach Lane Burroughs and the Bulldogs open u play this morning at 9 a.m. when they face No. 3 seed Charlotte at Reckling Park in Houston.

The game can be seen on ESPN+.

LA Tech (27-29) won last year’s event when Steele Netterville and the Dogs walked off UTSA in Hattiesburg. The Bulldogs have played in two straight C-USA Championship title games after falling to Old Dominion in 2021 in Ruston.

Can the Bulldogs make it three in a row?

Tech is coming off a hard-fought home series against UTSA to end the regular season. All three games were de­cided by two runs with the Roadrunners taking two of three from the Bulldogs.

Three Bulldogs garnered All-Conference USA Honors. Jorge Corona (catcher) and Ethan Bates (utility) were named First Team All-Conference USA while Jonathan Fincher (starting pitcher) was named Second Team All-Conference USA. Bates was also voted Second Team All-Conference USA as a relief pitcher.

The LA Tech offense has heated up down the stretch of the regular season. Over their last 14 games, the Bulldogs are batting .287 while averaging 9.0 runs per game (have scored 7+ runs in 10 of the 14 games and have scored 10+ runs in six of those contests).

The two power bats of Ethan Bates (15 homers) and Philip Matulia (18) have been steady contributors lately. Bates has a current on-base streak of 20 games while Matulia has reached base in 18 straight contests. Matulia has also hit safely in eight straight games, tied for the longest streak a Bulldog this season.

Jonathan Fincher is slated to get the start on Wednesday versus Charlotte. The lefty has made five appearances in the C-USA Tournament during his career, having pitched 19.2 innings.

LA Tech and Charlotte faced off in the first C-USA series back in mid-March with the 49ers taking two of three from the Bulldogs in Ruston. This will be the second straight year the two teams square off in the first round of the C-USA Tournament.

Rice is hosting the C-USA Tournament for the first time since 2013, which was the last time it took place outside of Mississippi and Loui­siana.

LA Tech is 12-11 all-time in the C-USA Tourna­ment, having qualified for the event every year since 2016 (excluding the 2020 canceled season). They are 2-4 in first-round games, having won their opening contest each of the last two years.

After going a combined 4-8 in the tournament from 2016-19 (including being winless in 2017 and 2019), LA Tech has advanced to the champi­onship game in each of the last two years while going a combined 8-3.