Diamond `Dogs Set to Open 2017 Campaign
Feb. 16, 2017
RUSTON, La. - The wait is over. Tomorrow night, Louisiana Tech Baseball will take the field at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park, ready to build on their historic success from a season ago.
The Bulldogs enter the 2017 season under new leadership with first year head coach Lane Burroughs at the helm, who will don red and blue for the first time on Friday night at the "Love Shack," when Louisiana Tech takes on Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the first of three games.
Friday's first pitch set for 6 p.m. while Saturday's tilt is set for 2 p.m. and Sunday's finale beginning at 1 p.m.
"I am excited and just ready to take the field against someone else," Burroughs said. "We have talked about this ad nauseam, but we have been here so long because of the quarter system and it feels like we are finally breaking spring training. I know our guys are ready. I am excited about being here. When we took our pictures the other day and you put on that uniform with Tech across your chest, it is real."
Burroughs will call on right-hander Kent Hasler to take to the rubber for the season opener, his first appearance as a Bulldog. Hasler joins Louisiana Tech after two seasons at Mesa Community College where he earned JUCO all-America honors thanks to a 1.93 ERA over 102.1 innings. The Chandler, Arizona native also struck out 106 batters over those 102 innings last season.
On Saturday, a familiar face will get the start, in 2016 first team all-Conference USA pitcher Casey Sutton. Sutton, who was named preseason all-Conference USA last month, is coming off an incredible 8-1 season which featured a 1.59 ERA in conference games.
Cameron Linck gets the nod on Sunday. The senior started 11 games last season for the Bulldogs, registering a 3.38 ERA. Linck propelled the Bulldogs to the Starkville Regional final a season ago, tossing six innings against nationally-ranked Cal State Fullerton and allowing just two runs in a 6-2 win.
"I think our lineup makes them better," Burroughs continued. "Coach [Christian] Ostrander talks about it all the time, it is a hard lineup to navigate through. Having to bear down and get those hitters out, will benefit them in the long run. When we got back from the break I did not anticipate Kent Hasler being a weekend guy, but he just kept getting better. We tinkered with putting him in the windup, but he was not comfortable with it, so we put him back in the stretch where he has been outstanding. Casey has been good. He is what he is. He is going to pitch deep into ball games and make soft contact, because he is not a big strikeout guy. Cam Linck deserved his spot. He pitched in some stressful innings last year. Having not pitched in the fall hurt him, but he has come back strong and looked good in his bullpens."
Brent Diaz will begin his third season with Louisiana Tech behind the plate and was named preseason all-Conference USA. Cody Daigle, Jordan Washam, Chase Lunceford and new-comer Dalton Skelton will make up the rest of the infield. Jonathan Washam will resume his DH role in 2017.
Manning the outfield for the Diamond `Dogs will be seniors Raphael Gladu and Sean Ullrich, as well as true freshman Parker Bates. Mason Robinson, Marshall Boggs and J'Mar Smith will also battle for time in the outfield.
UAPB will be forced to replace its entire rotation from a season ago, losing all three pitchers who logged 40 or more innings for their 2016 squad. The Golden Lions will also have to replace Skyler Henson who registered a team-high 15 appearances, posting a 2.63 ERA.
The Golden Lions will lean on C.J. Lewington on the mound who tossed 36 innings last season, with an ERA of 3.25.
"In all my years of coaching, I have never played them," Burroughs remarked. "I do know there have been a lot of great baseball players to come out of that area. Carlos James has done a great job since he has been there. A couple of years ago they knocked off a lot of really good teams. They went in and beat some SEC teams on the road. He knows what he is doing. They are well-coached. These days in college baseball you better be ready to strap it on and get after it, because everyone has a guy on the bump that can beat anybody and everyone has two or three hitters that can drive the ball. I say this all the time; you are competing against the game. We are not competing against the team in the other dugout, that is a nameless, faceless opponent. You are competing against the game and the game will punch you in the mouth if you don't play it right."
Arkansas-Pine Bluff does return their top hitter from 2016 in Julian Jones, who led the team with a .383 batting average, three home runs and 23 RBI. The Golden Lions also return Jaquese Moore and Joshua Williams who each batted over .360.
Tickets to this weekend's series are still on sale through the LA Tech Ticket Office and season tickets are also still on sale.
All three games will be streamed live on CUSA.TV with a subscription required. ESPN 97.7 will carry Friday and Sunday's games, with Saturday's game slated for The Peach 99.3. Live updates will be available by following @LATechBSB on twitter.
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