BY DUDLEY E.DAWSON
Louisiana Tech head coach Lane Burroughs is confident he will have NCAA tournament caliber again this season.
But he certainly saw no sign of that with his preseason Conference USA favorites the Bulldogs this weekend as they were swept by Arkansas, including an odd 15-6 decision on Sunday.
Arkansas hit nine runs in a third inning in which Jared Wegner and Kendall Diggs both hit homers with two runs from starter Reed Smith and Louisiana Tech Reliever Lane Tompkins went five straight batters, three with loaded bases forced into runs.
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That inning came after Razorback, starting and winning pitcher Hunter Hollan (3-0), who fielded five innings of two-hit baseball and retired 11 straight batters, actually hit three batters as the Bulldogs went 3-1 in leadership went.
“Not many teams will survive a nine-place finish, that’s for sure,” Burroughs said. “I’ve been doing this for 27 years and I don’t think I’ve ever survived any of it.”
Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn praised his team for their xx hits and 12 walks, including five draws from Wegner, during Sunday’s game.
The Razorbacks have won 26 consecutive weekend nonconference series since the 2014 season.
“Just a good job by our team, really all weekend, just to find a way to win three games,” said Van Horn. “Today it was more about exploiting what they didn’t do well. They walked us a dozen times, got hit with a punch or two, got a couple of big hits, and created a couple of things that we took advantage of.
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“I was just impressed with the racquets. They didn’t take many hits, but they didn’t leave the zone, didn’t chase too much, and just kept fighting. Three nine runs in the third was basically… They had a little problem throwing the ball over the plate. We got a few hits in there and just kept going.”
Arkansas won 12-7 on Friday and 6-1 on Saturday behind pitcher Will McEntire’s complete gamer three-hitter.
This against a team that was 43-21 last season playing in the Austin Regional.
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“We’re not a very good baseball team right now, and that’s the bottom line,” Burroughs said. “We have to find a way to get better.
“…We’re in a storm right now and we have to get through it. Not much is going right, not much in our direction. We can sit here and talk about this all day, but we have to get out of there. We’re not very good.”
Hollan was followed to the mound by Cody Adcock, who pitched two innings, and freshman Gage Wood and Christian Foutch, who made his college debut and pitched an inning like Wood.
Burroughs, whose team is 8-7, had plenty of praise for Arkansas (13-2), winners of eight straight games and a team that surpassed their 11-6 on Sunday.
“They’re really good, obviously they blew us away,” Burroughs said. “We really weren’t in any of the games except Friday night. They are a good club.
“I’m rather disappointed in our team. I felt like we didn’t really show ourselves. They’re good, but we’re kind of proud of playing hard and being tough. I didn’t think any of that showed up this weekend.
“I thought their arms were good and I know they have some bullets (injuries) in the bullpen but I thought their boys came in and did a good job for them.
“Obviously their lineup is long and physical. If they swing the bats like that, they’ll be hard to beat and sure to make a run in the SEC.
Burroughs said his team was struggling with injuries and illnesses this weekend but didn’t look for excuses.
“It’s (hard) but it’s not who we are and we don’t like to talk about it,” Burroughs said. It is what it is and it has to be the next man.
“At the end of the day we ran into a really good team and we’re not playing good baseball at the moment.”
Louisiana Tech has a win over defending champion Ole Miss and was leading in a second game when rain forced the score to drop an inning and gave the Rebels the win.
“We really haven’t played well all year,” Burroughs said. “We’re 8-7 and lucky to have won eight. That’s the unfortunate and disappointing part – I don’t even think we’re anywhere near where we could be.
“Our principals don’t produce and when that happens at a school our size we don’t have that much depth so it becomes difficult. You can’t come in and play like that against a good team in a great arena or you see what happens.”
Louisiana Tech had a bright spot in true freshman Karson Evans, who made his college debut this weekend.
Evans went 4-of-11 with two homers, a double, and six RBIs while hitting 1,000.
“We have a guy who shows up at the stadium ready to play and it’s him,” Burroughs said. “He got his chance and got in there and made the most of it.
“He’s a tough kid — mentally tough and physically tough, and a great athlete … You can put Karson Evans anywhere you want on the baseball field and he’ll play and not say a word.
“You saw it today. He had never played in a college game and held his own. I am proud of him. He was the only bright spot I think for the whole weekend… He had a great weekend on offense.”
Borroughs decided he had to give Evans a chance.
“It’s his first time playing,” Burroughs said. “We don’t have the luxury of college football. We can’t play them a little bit and then they get a red shirt. When you play them you have to roll with them.
“His BP is good every day. He’s tough and we decided to let him roll this weekend and I’m guessing he had about six or seven RBIs, two homers and a big double the other night. He will likely be in the four holes next Tuesday night.
“He can play first, he can catch, he’s just a ball player. I’m very proud of him and how he reacted this weekend.”
Arkansas has a two-game set with UNLV on Tuesday night at 6 p.m. and Wednesday at 3 p.m. before the SEC game opens with Auburn on Friday at 6:30 p.m.
Photo by John D James