RUSTON, La. – No. 18 Louisiana Tech will get its first taste of postseason baseball in its new home stadium when it takes on No. 7 seed UTSA in the opening round of the 2021 Air Force Reserve C-USA Baseball Championship on Wednesday afternoon. First pitch for Wednesday's game is set to begin at 4 p.m.
LA Tech's contest against UTSA will mark the third game of the C-USA Tournament held at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park. The Bulldogs, the No. 2 seed, will be the home team in all games played on their side of the bracket.
With a win, the Diamond Dogs would advance in the winner's bracket to play the winner of Southern Miss (No. 3 seed) and WKU (No. 6 seed) at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday. The Bulldogs would play the loser of the matchup between the Golden Eagles and Hilltoppers at 4 p.m. on Thursday with a Wednesday loss to UTSA. This week's tournament features a double-elimination format.
All games, minus Sunday's championship game, will stream live on ESPN+. Sunday's championship matchup will be televised live on CBS Sports Network.
Game 1 Information
Game Time (Wednesday): 4 p.m.
Location: J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park
Live Video Stream: ESPN+
Radio/Streamed Radio Broadcast: KNBB 97.7 FM | latechsports.com
Projected Starting Pitchers (Wednesday)
LA Tech: Ryan Jennings (RHP)
Jennings: 5-3, 4.46 ERA, 68.2 IP, 59 K, 19 BB
UTSA: Pepper Jones (RHP)
Jones: 0-2, 5.79 ERA, 18.2 IP, 16 K, 10 BB
Scouting the First-Round Matchup:
The last time Louisiana Tech and UTSA faced off marked a memorable day at the Love Shack. With a win and a Southern Miss loss, the Bulldogs clinched their first division title since 1992. LA Tech scored the final 12 runs of the game in a 17-7 run-rule victory over the Roadrunners on May 16.
Hunter Wells, one of six 2020 seniors who returned for their extra year of eligibility, capped off a memorable Senior Day with a walk-off two-run double to run rule UTSA in seven innings. The Bulldogs trailed 7-5 in the Sunday afternoon contest before a seven-spot in the bottom of the fifth and a five-spot in the bottom of the seventh secured the series win and C-USA Western Division title.
After dropping the series opener to UTSA on Friday, May 14, LA Tech reeled off three straight wins to take the series. Bulldog starting pitcher Ryan Jennings limited the Roadrunners to three hits and one run in a complete-game performance in game one of May 15's doubleheader. Parker Bates launched a three-run walk-off home run in the eighth inning of game two's doubleheader to secure Tech's first home doubleheader sweep of the season.
At the end of the regular season, the Bulldogs top the conference with a .309 batting average as a team. Individually, Wells ranks first in the league with a .380 batting average and 82 hits while also ranking third with 128 total bases, fourth with 52 runs scored and seventh with a .444 on-base percentage.
Centerfielder Parker Bates ranks inside the top five in conference with a .468 on-base percentage (T-Third), three triples (T-Third) and 51 runs scored (fifth). Starting pitcher Jonathan Fincher ranks first in the C-USA with .205 batting average against him, second with 84.1 innings pitched and fourth with a 2.77 ERA.
The Bulldogs had five First Team All-Conference USA honorees – Wells, Bates, Fincher, Taylor Young and Manny Garcia. Young, Tech's leadoff batter and the conference's leader with 68 runs scored, became LA Tech's first C-USA Defensive Player of the Year honoree after finishing the regular season with a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage.
Fincher and designated hitter Steele Netterville also earned Conference USA All-Academic Team accolades following exceptional years in the classroom. Seven Bulldogs graduated this past weekend – Fincher, Netterville, Kyle Crigger, Cade Gibson, Shemar Page and Alex Ray.
UTSA had two All-Conference USA honorees of its own. Catcher Nick Thornquist earned first-team honors, while outfielder Griffin Paxton earned second-team honors. UTSA ranks top three in the C-USA as a team with a .398 on-base percentage (second), .484 slugging percentage (second) and third with a .304 batting average.
On the mound, the Roadrunners rank in the bottom half of the conference with a 5.91 ERA (eighth), 56 home runs allowed (eighth) and 344 strikeouts (10th). Eleven different UTSA pitchers have made starts this season.
Wednesday's matchup between No. 18 LA Tech and UTSA will mark the first matchup between the two schools in the C-USA Tournament's history.