RUSTON, La. – Louisiana Tech claimed a 10-5 Conference USA win over the visiting Rice baseball team to close out the regular season schedule for both teams Saturday afternoon in Ruston, La.
With the win the Bulldogs completed the three-game sweep of the C-USA weekend series. Rice is now 32-20 overall and 19-10 in conference. LA Tech improved to 37-16 on the season and 19-11 in C-USA.
The Owls are the No. 4 seed, and Tech is the No. 5 seed, in the upcoming conference tournament that begins May 25 in Hattiesburg, Miss. The same two teams are scheduled to open the week-long, double-elimination event where the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament is on the line.
In Saturday’s regular season finale Rice opened the scoring for the first time in the series. Sophomore Dane Myers started the top of the second inning striking out, but still reaching first base as the ball bounded away on the play. He stole second before Dayne Wunderlich drew a two-out walk. Senior Hunter Kopycinski followed with a single into right to score one and put runners at the corners. Charlie Warren then lined a two-out base hit to left-center to plate Wunderlich for a 2-0 Owl advantage.
LA Tech sent 10 to the plate for four runs in the bottom of the third and never looked back. The Bulldogs then added two more in the fourth to make it 6-3. Rice had trouble taking care of the baseball in both innings, and went on to finish the contest with a season-high five errors in the field.
Three of the first six runs were unearned, but Rice still battled. Ryan Chandler led off the fifth with a walk and Ford Proctor followed by connecting on a 3-2 pitch with a line-drive home run to right field. Proctor’s first career round-tripper cut the margin to 6-4.
The Bulldogs turned two hits into a run in its half of the fifth. Another run on two hits and a walk in the sixth doubled the margin to four, 8-4. The Blue & Gray scored its final run in the eighth on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Proctor, but two more Tech runs in bottom of the frame finished out the 10-5 final.
On the offensive side Rice reached double-digit hits for the 20th time this season. Warren and Kopycinski shared the team lead with three hits. Proctor finished with three RBI, giving the true freshman a team-leading 30 heading into the C-USA Tourney.
LA Tech indeed became the first conference team to sweep a three-game C-USA series from the Owls, but the squads are not quite finished in 2016. The first pitch between the teams in Wednesday’s meeting at the C-USA Tournament is set for 9 am.