Feb. 27, 2014
RUSTON, La. - For the second consecutive season, Louisiana Tech will welcome a Big Ten opponent to J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park as the Golden Gophers from Minnesota travel to Ruston for a three-game non-conference series beginning at 6 p.m. Friday.
Last season, the Bulldogs hosted fellow Big Ten foe Nebraska and defeated the Huskers in two of the three games in that series. LA Tech comes into the weekend 2-5 on the season and is coming off an 11-2 loss to UALR at home. Last weekend, the 'Dogs hosted Tulane in a Conference USA series and lost the first two games before pulling out a win in Sunday's contest.
"We need to take care of our business this weekend against Minnesota," head coach Wade Simoneaux said. "We have to throw strikes, field and manufacture runs in order to be successful."
This weekend is a return trip for Minnesota as the Bulldogs traveled to Minneapolis in 2010 and took two of three from the home Gophers. While the first and third games of that series were played in the Metrodome, Saturday's contest was at Target Field, marking the first game ever played in the then new stadium. The Bulldogs won that game, 9-1, and were able to record the first ever win in the Minnesota Twins' ballpark.
LA Tech will meet up with Minnesota for just the fourth time Friday in the first game of the three-game series. However, this will mark the first time Louisiana Tech, who currently leads the all-time series 2-1, has played host to the Golden Gophers. In 2010, LA Tech traveled to Minnesota for a three-game set and recorded the first win in Target Field, a 9-1 victory, in the second game of the series. Minnesota took the first game, 3-2, before the Bulldogs won the series in the rubber match, 5-2, on the following Sunday at the Metrodome.
At the plate
Senior first baseman Tyler Ervine continues to lead the Bulldogs at the plate and comes into Wednesday's game with a .458 batting average, which ranks sixth among all C-USA players. He has driven home nine runs in seven games and has a double and a home run. Five of LA Tech's hitters are batting above .300 after seven games played. R-Jr. outfielder Colby Johnson is currently tied for ninth in C-USA with a .429 average and has hit safely in seven straight games dating back to the 2013 season.
Minnesota is led by freshman Austin Athmann, who is hitting .467 with a double and two RBI. Bobby Juan leads with three doubles and has the lone home run on the team. Minnesota is batting .249 as a team in six games with 12 doubles and 34 runs scored.
On the mound
After sticking with an identical pitching rotation in the first two series of the season, the Bulldogs will switch things around against the Golden Gophers with Adam Derouen getting his first start of the season Friday on the bump, followed by junior Phil Maton on Saturday and senior Richie Navari in Sunday's contest.
Minnesota will send senior right hander Alec Crawford to the mound to start things off Friday night, with So. LHP Jordan Jess and Jr. RHP Ben Meyer scheduled to pitch on Saturday & Sunday, respectively.
WITH THE CALL
All three games of this weekend's series with the Golden Gophers can be seen on LA Tech All-Access. Subscribers can tune in on LATechSports.com/AllAccess for all the action.
Friday night's game will mark First Responders Night at The Love Shack as all firemen, police and EMS in attendance will receive FREE admission with a valid ID. Free Hot Dog Friday also returns with the first fans in attendance will receive one free hot dog, courtesy of Super 1 Foods, while supplies last. Sunday is Kids' Club Sunday at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park as all kids or little league baseball teams in attendance are invited to take the field with the Bulldogs pregame for the National Anthem.
Any local baseball teams hoping to take the field with the Diamond 'Dogs pregame at any point this season can contact Jay Luksis at 318-257-5332 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For complete coverage of Bulldog Baseball, please follow @LATechBSB on Twitter or visit the official home of Louisiana Tech Athletics at LATechSports.com.