April 26, 2008
RUSTON, La. - Another set of back-to-back-to-back home runs and a complete game from senior Alan Knotts led Louisiana Tech to its first Western Athletic Conference win in nearly a month as the Bulldogs defeated Hawaii, 14-4, in seven innings in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader at J.C. Love Field.
With the win, Tech (17-24, 3-18 WAC) kept from falling farther behind in the WAC standings as New Mexico State swept a doubleheader at Sacramento State earlier in the day. Hawaii (21-23, 13-10 WAC) still has not won both ends of a conference doubleheader this season.
"That's how we should have been playing all along," Tech head coach Wade Simoneaux said. "That's what we're capable of. It's a shame that I had to threaten some of them with their scholarships to get them to play like that."
The big story, of course, is that Tech hit back-to-back-to-back home runs in back-to-back games, believed to be the first time in school history for that feat to have been accomplished. Two players - Jericho Jones and Albie Goulder - were involved in both sets of dingers, and Chris Kersten and Clay Alexander provided the bookends. Kersten also hit another home run in the second game, a seventh-inning grand slam that helped propel the Bulldogs to a seven-run, game-ending frame.
Alan Knotts (3-2) got his third win of the season, pitching a complete game for the first time in his career while equaling a career high with eight strikeouts. He gave up four runs - none were earned - on five hits while walking only one in his seven full innings.
"We had our post-game meeting on the mound because that's where it starts - on the mound."
Hawaii, meanwhile, used five pitchers in the game, which combined to give up 14 runs - 13 earned - on 11 hits while walking four and striking out nine. Alex Bates (0-1) was charged with the loss, giving up five runs in his 4.2 innings.
Tech jumped on the board early with two runs in the first inning, the first coming thanks to a bases-loaded error as the Hawaii pitcher tried to throw home for the force. But the catcher mishandled the throw, allowing Cobb to slide in safely for a 1-0 lead. Goulder then brought in another run with a sacrifice fly to left, scoring Winn to make it 2-0.
But that would be the only runs scored for either team until the fifth inning. The Rainbows threatened in the fourth with runners at the corners and only one out. But Knotts induced a inning-ending double play to keep the shutout alive to that point.
The `Bows, however, would take advantage of some shaky defense in the fifth. A leadoff walk followed by back-to-back errors by Kersten and Nick Grunenwald brought in one run and left runners at second and third with no out. Two batters later, Nick Haislet ripped a double to the gap, scoring two runs to give the `Bows a 3-2 lead. An infield single from Johnathan Hee would then bring in another run, and the Rainbows held a 4-2 lead.
Tech would answer in short order and in spectacular fashion. With two outs in the fifth and runners on first and second, Jones hit a towering home run to left - his 10th of the season - to put Tech back on top, 5-4, and chasing the Hawaii starter. Not to be outdone, Goulder put the new pitcher's first offering out of the park for his 10th of the year, marking the second time in the doubleheader that Jones and Goulder went back-to-back.
Knotts got out of another big jam in the seventh when Hawaii put runners at the corners with no out. The righthander from Shreveport struck out the next two batters then induced a groundout to end the inning with no damage done.
The Bulldog offense would pick up right where it left off in the seventh as a Winn single and back-to-back walks to Drew Bunting and Jericho Jones brought up Kersten. He did not disappoint, blasting the first pitch he saw over the windscreen in center field for a grand slam, giving Tech a 11-4 lead. But that wouldn't be all for Tech in the seventh. With two out, Cobb ripped a double to right, scoring Grunenwald to make it 12-4. And Winn ended matters with a two-RBI single, his second hit of the inning, to invoke the run-rule in Tech's favor for the first time this season.
Louisiana Tech and Hawaii will conclude this four-game series on Sunday with a single game slated to begin at 1 p.m. The "Voice of the Bulldogs" Dave Nitz will have the call on ESPN 97.7 FM (online at www.espn977.com) and live stats will be available through GameTracker at www.latechsports.com. Sunday's contest is also a Cane's Challenge game - if the Bulldogs score at least six runs, everyone in attendance will receive a coupon for a free Raising Cane's combo with the purchase of a combo. Good seats are still available, and stadium gates open 90 minutes prior to first pitch.