Opening Day! Bulldog Baseball Begins Friday

Luke Burnett gets the start on Friday night.
 
Luke Burnett gets the start on Friday night.
 

Feb. 21, 2008

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RUSTON, La. - After weeks and months of anticipation, first pitch is only hours away.

Louisiana Tech kicks off its 2008 baseball campaign at 6 p.m. Friday as in-state foe McNeese State comes to a revamped J.C. Love Field for a three-game series. Saturday's game begins at 3 p.m., and the series finale starts at 1 p.m. Sunday.

The Bulldogs finished the 2007 season with a 35-24 record, 14-10 in Western Athletic Conference play, which was good for a third-place WAC finish. Twenty-two lettermen return for Louisiana Tech, including all three starting pitchers.

McNeese State looks to bounce back from a 21-35 (17-12 Southland) campaign last season with a new head coach, three new starting pitchers, and a lineup that features only three returning position players.

Preseason All-American Luke Burnett (5-8, 4.93 in 2007) will take the hill for the Bulldogs on Friday night. The 6-8 junior righthander led the WAC with 115 strikeouts in 2007, and stands poised to break into the Top 10 all-time in school history with his 19th `K' this season. He will face sophomore lefthander Tyler Davis, who went 1-1 with a 4.22 ERA last season in 17 appearances, but only made one start.

Also on Friday night, coach Wade Simoneaux and the Bulldog baseball team will honor Sandra Kane, recently retired baseball secretary and the wife of former Tech head coach Mike Kane, as she will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Junior righthander Jericho Jones (2-2, 6.16 in 2007) is slated for Saturday's start, where he will square off against Cowboy righthander Scott Holstein. Jones, who battled injuries throughout the 2007 season, made his first career pitching start against the Cowboys in 2006, where he picked up the first win of his collegiate career. Holstein is a transfer from Delgado Junior College, and he will be making his first Division I start.

Sunday will pit All-WAC second-team selection Dylan Moseley (7-4, 4.07 in 2007), the third of Tech's triumvirate of junior righties, against McNeese sophomore righty Jonathan Conrad (1-4, 7.41 in 2007). It will be a rematch of last season's Sunday matchup where Moseley picked up his first win of the year, allowing two runs on six hits while striking out four. The Bulldogs chased Conrad after two innings by plating seven runs on five hits.

Last season, Tech swept the series with McNeese State, which was moved to Ruston following construction delays at Cowboy Diamond in Lake Charles. This season's series was originally slated to be played at McNeese, but winter quarter finals at Tech forced the series to be moved to Ruston for the third straight year.

A limited number of reserved season tickets are still available by calling the Tech ticket office at 318-257-3631. Single-game Dugout Reserved ($12), Stadium Reserved ($8) and General Admission ($5 adults, $4 children) will be available at the J.C. Love Field box office, and gates will open 1 1/2 hours prior to first pitch for each game. The roof of the first-base (visitors') dugout is reserved for Tech students, who are admitted free with a valid student ID.

Ample parking is available within a block of J.C. Love Field. The lot on W. Alabama Ave. adjacent to the stadium is reserved for season ticket holders and those with handicap tags/stickers. Fans showing their season tickets at the gate will be allowed to gain entry to the lot. All other fans may park across Tech Drive at the Lady Techster Softball Complex or in the Lambright Intramural Center parking lot just north of the stadium.

For the 33rd straight season, the legendary "Voice of the Bulldogs" Dave Nitz will provide the play-by-play for Friday's and Sunday's games on ESPN 97.7 FM. There will be no broadcast Saturday due to a conflict with basketball. Live internet streaming of the broadcast can be heard at www.espn977.com, and live stats are available through CSTV's GameTracker at www.latechsports.com.