Feb. 22, 2008
RUSTON, La. - Drew Bunting, Albie Goulder and Chris Kersten each hit their first home runs of the season in Louisiana Tech's 14-5 season-opening victory over McNeese State on a frigid Friday night before a J.C. Love Field crowd of 1,184.
"We got down early, but our veteran team never panicked," Tech coach Wade Simoneaux said. "They never got negative or down on themselves, and they went out there and got it done."
Bunting, Goulder and Kersten combined for six of Tech's 14 hits and 12 RBI. Bunting went 2-for-3 with 3 RBI, Goulder was 3-for-4 with 4 RBI and Kersten was 1-for-3 with 5 RBI.
"We've got guys that can really swing the bat," Simoneaux said. "People are saying that we won't hit as many home runs as last year, but this team might hit even more. They're really a hard-working team. But tonight's hits and pitching will not win tomorrow's game. We've got to come back, strap it up, and go at it again."
Jamey Bradshaw, a sophomore from nearby Choudrant, La., got the win, pitching three innings of solid relief as he allowed one run on three hits while striking out six. McNeese's Tyler Davis was charged with the loss after giving up seven runs in four innings, but he did strike out seven batters in only his second career start.
Preseason All-American junior Luke Burnett got the start for the Bulldogs, but struggled on a frigid night as he allowed four runs on five hits while walking four and striking out five in four innings of work.
Burnett got off to a rocky start as he walked two batters, uncorked two wild pitches and gave up a two-run home run to freshman Nick Eubanks, who put one over the center field wall in his first collegiate at-bat to give McNeese a 2-0 lead.
McNeese would answer in short order, however. A single, a walk and a sacrifice bunt brought up Shon Landry, who ripped a one-out, bases-clearing double down the left-field line to get the Cowboys back within a run at 5-4. A passed ball would advance Landry to third, but Burnett would get out of the inning with a strikeout and a great sliding catch by Jericho Jones.
After the first two Bulldogs struck out in the bottom of the second, Grunenwald worked a walk after fouling off six straight pitches. Bunting then grounded to third, but the throw got by the first baseman, allowing Grunenwald to score from first to increase the Tech lead to 6-4.
The bats would go cold as the temperature dropped into the 30s as neither team would plate a run over the next two and a half innings. Tech would break through in the fifth as Jones singled down the right field line to score Grunenwald from second, padding Tech's lead at 7-4. Bunting would then score from third on a Goulder double to the wall in right to make it 8-4 with still no outs in the fifth. A sacrifice fly from Chris Kersten would bring in Jones to increase the Bulldog lead to 9-4. Goulder would advance to third on a groundout by Kevin Winn, but he would advance no farther.
The Cowboys would get one in the top of the seventh when Bryn Thompson singled home Landry from third to shrink the margin to 9-5. But Tech would explode for __ runs in the bottom half of the inning. It started with a Goulder single to score Bunting, who reached third after a throwing error by the McNeese shortstop blew a sure double play chance, making the score 10-5. Kersten then followed up with a mammoth three-run shot to left field, scoring Goulder and Clint Stubbs to push the Tech lead to 13-5. The Bulldogs would then load the bases with Jonathan Mire, Clint Stubbs and Clay Alexander. Mire would score on a fly ball to center from Kersten to make the final score 14-5.
Game two of this weekend's series is set for 3 p.m. Saturday at J.C. Love Field. There will be no radio broadcast due to conflicts with basketball, but live stats will be available through www.latechsports.com.