'Do or die time': How Louisiana Tech baseball can rally to super regional berth

Cory Diaz
Monroe News-Star

Hunter Wells, Taylor Young, Parkers Bates, Steele Netterville and Louisiana Tech's offense has done it all season.

Smattering walkoffs, erasing eight-run deficits in miraculous comebacks and scoring more than seven runs per game.

With the Bulldogs fighting to claw their way out of the loser's bracket in the Ruston Regional after suffering an 8-3 defeat to North Carolina State on Saturday at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park, it's time for the pitching staff to become the aggressor.

Louisiana Tech (41-19) has its back against the proverbial wall in the Love Shack, needing to win three straight games to advance to a super regional.

The reliance on the staff will start in the hands of senior right-hander Jarret Whorff, who'll get the start in the game versus Alabama (35-22) at 2 p.m. CT. The winner will face NC State (32-17) at 6 p.m., with the opportunity to force a winner-take-all game against the Wolfpack on Monday. 

Louisiana Tech baseball coach Lane Burroughs (23) looks on during NCAA regionals at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park.

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Tech coach Lane Burroughs and pitching coach Mike Silva couldn't feel more comfortable with Whorff,who recorded the biggest win in Tech history earlier this season with the two-hit shutout over No. 1 Arkansas.

"He's been in the big games. He'll be up to the task. He ain't gonna get sped up," Burroughs said. "I love the guy we got going for us. He's a perfect Sunday guy. He's got the knee issue; hopefully he can battle through that. Whorff's going to have to pitch really well. He has for us all year. He's answered the ball all year long for us. He'll have to come out and have his best stuff.

"Everybody's going to have to post tomorrow."

That's where things will have to turn a corner. As NC State demonstrated Saturday with several two-strike and two-out hits, Louisiana Tech needs more aggression if it intends to advance out of the regional.

For much of the year, the bullpen has been spotty for the Bulldogs. Injuries cropped up at the worst time last week during the Conference USA Tournament with closer Landon Tomkins going down with a fractured hand.

For Tech to extend its season, senior Kyle Griffen will need to return to 2019 form over the next three days. Kyle Crigger must remain steady. Other guys like Cade Hodges, Nick Ellis and Tyler Follis whose roles have changed recently will need to important innings.

Burroughs and Silva set things up for the Bulldogs to have enough arms for three more games. Cade Gibson came in on relief against NC State and faced just two batters. Crigger, Griffen and Hodges all got some work Saturday and will be available to pitch.

"We didn't want to spend anybody. You know you got to win two ballgames tomorrow to keep your season going," Burroughs said. "Everybody's probably going to have to pitch tomorrow."

Opponents are hitting .277 on Louisiana Tech's staff. It's ERA sits at 4.82 through 60 games. The Bulldogs will likely need to be a bit better to reach a super regional.

Why not now? Burroughs said.

"It's do or die time."