March 18, 2008
RUSTON, La. - Dodging raindrops and huge clouds of pollen for much of the night, Louisiana Tech pounded out 10 hits and played stellar defense in a 10-4 victory over cross-parish rival Grambling State on Tuesday night at J.C. Love Field.
The Bulldogs and Tigers managed to get all nine innings in despite an unfavorable forecast throughout much of the day Tuesday. But the rain held off long enough for Louisiana Tech (13-6) to get its sixth victory in seven games heading into conference play.
Casey Jones (1-0) got his first victory for Tech as he pitched two innings of shutout ball, allowing only one hit and two walks. The rotation for the night was predetermined as Tech used six pitchers on the night. Mike LeBreton had the best outing of the six, pitching three shutout innings while allowing only two hits and striking out four.
Numerous Bulldogs were successful at the plate, and several were robbed of certain home runs by the powerful southeast wind blowing straight in from center field. In all, eight Bulldogs had hits on the night and several more reached base on errors and walks.
Chris Kersten went 2-for-2, including a rocket-shot home run over the left-field wall into the stiff wind. Chris Bohannan, after getting his first career hit on Sunday, added two more in a 2-for-3 night in which he also had a run and an RBI. Nick Grunenwald and Clay Alexander extended their hitting streaks to five and seven games, respectively, with a hit apiece.
Tech burned up the basepaths on the night as it stole a season-high six bases, including three by speedy centerfielder Adam Cobb.
Tech would add to the lead an inning later. Bohannan led off with a single to left, advancing to second on a wild pitch. A groundout to short advanced Bohannan to third, and he would score on another wild pitch to make it 2-0. Cobb, who had struck out but reached base on the wild pitch, took second on a passed ball and then stole third to bring up hot-hitting Clay Alexander. He would not disappoint, ripping a single to left to bring home Cobb and make it 3-0. Alexander would then steal second, bringing up Jericho Jones with a runner in scoring position. Jones ripped a 3-1 delivery down the line, but right at the GSU third baseman to end the threat. Grambling would get on the board in the third when Manny Kumar singled off the third base bag, followed by Mychal Koby's RBI double into the left-field corner to make it 3-1.
Kersten would answer in the bottom half, pushing the lead to 4-1 with his solo home run in the third inning, his fourth of the season. Despite the stiff wind, there was no doubt about it as the ball nearly hit the apartments in left field on the fly.
Tech would break it open in the fifth with a three-run outburst, aided by a pair of Tiger errors. Goulder led off with a single to right, followed by a Kersten walk. Grunenwald then laid down a bunt to move the runners, but reached base when the GSU third baseman's throw was wide of first base, allowing Goulder to score and Kersten to advance to third. Cobb would then bring in another run as he grounded to second, who forced out pinch-runner Patrick Thomas at second. But the throw to first was not in time and out of the fielder's reach, allowing Grunenwald and Kersten to score, making it 7-1.
The Bulldogs got another in the sixth with two out when Jonathan Mire, pinch-hitting for Albie Goulder, walked and took second on a wild pitch, then advanced to third on a throwing error. He would score on a Kersten double to right to make it 8-1.
Grambling would find its offensive rhythm in the seventh, scoring three runs - all with two outs - on the strength of two hits, two walks, a steal, and a hit batter. Just like that, it was 8-4 and Grambling was still alive.
Tech would put it out of reach in the eighth with a pair of runs, the first of which came on a Clint Stubbs double to center field to score Chris Juneau from first, making it 9-1. Mire then walked, bringing up Kersten. He attempted to bunt the runners over, but the catcher's throw pulled the first baseman off the bag, to load the bases. Grunenwald would then ground into a double play, but Stubbs would score on the play to make it 10-1.
Aaron Lorio then pitched a solid ninth, giving up only one hit while closing out the game.
The Bulldogs depart Ruston at approximately 1 a.m. Wednesday - some four hours after the game ended - for Dallas, where they will board a plane for Reno, Nev., site of this weekend's conference opener against the Nevada Wolf Pack. Games are set for 8 p.m. Central on Thursday and Friday, and a doubleheader begins at 3 p.m. Central on Saturday. Fans can catch all the action on ESPN 97.7 FM or by logging on to www.espn977.com as Dave Nitz has the call.