April 3, 2014
RUSTON, La. - Louisiana Tech (9-18, 3-9 C-USA) continues to fight for its first series victory of the 2014 season this weekend as UAB (19-10, 6-3 C-USA) travels to Ruston to take on the Bulldogs in a three-game Conference USA series beginning at 6 p.m. Friday at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park.
The Bulldogs are coming off yet another close loss at the hands of Northwestern State Wednesday night in Ruston. LA Tech has struggled this season with low-scoring games and that continued this week, as a 2-1 defeat to the Demons gave the Bulldogs 10 losses this season that have been decided by three runs or less.
"We are in every single ball game we play, but we just have to figure out a way to finish off a win," head coach Wade Simoneaux said. "We have to be able to generate some offense because it all comes down to scoring runs. UAB can really pitch, but we have to find ways to scratch across runs against guys that do not normally give up runs. It is going to be a good challenge for us this weekend."
UAB comes into the series fresh off two shutouts last weekend against FIU at home to win the series, as the Blazers' pitching staff is currently ranked third among 13 Conference USA teams. UAB enters the weekend ranked second in the C-USA standings.
The second game of the series is scheduled for a 3 p.m. first pitch Saturday, while the third and final contest of the weekend will be 1 p.m. Sunday at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park in Ruston.
A LOOK AT THE BLAZERS
UAB will travel to Ruston this weekend to face the Bulldogs for the first time since 2006 in what will be the first time the two teams have met as Conference USA opponents. The Blazers enter the weekend with a 19-10 record and a 6-3 mark in league play, which ranks second in the C-USA standings. Most recently, UAB lost midweek to Troy, but the Blazers took two of three from FIU last weekend with two shutout victories.
Louisiana Tech is gearing up to take on UAB for just the 12th time in the history of both programs. The Bulldogs currently lead the all-time series, 7-4, over the Blazers, including a 6-1 mark in games played at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park in Ruston. This weekend will mark the first meeting between LA Tech and UAB as conference opponents, as the Bulldogs come into the series having won four straight over the Blazers.
At the plate
Taylor Love is pacing the Bulldogs offensively at the dish with a .343 batting average this season, which ranks fifth among all C-USA hitters. Love leads the team in hits (34), doubles (6), runs (16) and on base percentage (.387), and enters this weekend on an nine-game hitting streak and a 25-game reached base streak, which dates back to Feb. 15 versus Southeastern. Tyler Ervine leads the team with 15 RBI and is tied for the team lead with three home runs. As a team, LA Tech is hitting .256 this season with 32 doubles, a triple and 12 home runs.
UAB comes into the series with a .267 team batting average with 30 doubles, three triples and three home runs. The Blazers are led by Mitch Williams, who enters the game with a .344 average with three doubles and 13 runs batted in on the season.
On the mound
Junior right-hander Phil Maton (2-3, 3.91 ERA) will get his ninth start of the season as he will take the mound in the series opener Friday. Maton leads the Bulldogs with 36 strikeouts on the season and is only 14 strikeouts away from cracking the Top 10 for career strikeouts in LA Tech history. Senior Richie Navari (3-2, 1.96 ERA, 2 CG) is set to get the start in Game 2 for the Bulldogs, while Sunday's starter has yet to be determined.
The Blazers come into the weekend as one of the top pitching teams in Conference USA with a 2.77 team ERA. Chase Mallard will start things off Friday (5-0, 0.85 ERA), while Alex Luna (5-0, 0.84 ERA) and Johnny Lieske (2-1, 1.82 ERA) will go in Games 2 and 3 for UAB.
For complete coverage of Bulldog Baseball, please follow @LATechBSB on Twitter or visit the official home of Louisiana Tech Athletics at LATechSports.com.