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By MATT DEARMAN mwd004@latech



After a six-game road trip that took the team as far as Honolulu, Tech’s baseball team returned to Ruston this week to begin a long local area stand.

This includes eight home games in ten days, beginning tomorrow night when the Bulldogs host the University of Alabama at Birmingham at 6 p.m. at J.C. Love Field.

The Bulldogs are 12-12 for the year, 3-2 in the Western Athletic Conference, and will host UAB (13-11) for games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as well as Mississippi State on Tuesday and University of Louisiana-Lafayette on Wednesday before resuming WAC play with a series against Nevada beginning April 7.

“It’s great to be playing at home,” Tech head coach Wade Simoneaux said.

“The guys were actually chanting ‘Ruston, Ruston’ on the bus-ride home after the road trip. “I feel like we’ve settled into our lineup, and we’ve got a good team.”

Tech recently capped off a five-game conference road trip, where it went 2-0 against Hawaii and 1-2 at San Jose State.

Leading the Bulldogs into the series with UAB will be freshman Jericho Jones, who has tallied 24 hits and 16 RBIs with four homeruns and a team high .444 batting average, as well as senior Amos Ramon, who has a team high 34 hits and a .382 batting average this season.

UAB is anchored by John Wayne Donahu with a team best .337 average, Zac Ward with 32 hits and 25 RBIs and Danny Sawyer with 8 doubles and 18 runs scored.

Defensively, Tech has proved solid on the mound, with Jones sporting a 4-0 record in seven appearances, and junior Andrew Alsup allowing just 14 hits and one walk in his 19 and one third innings pitched on the year.

The Blazers are led on the mound by Jim Crew, who has allowed eight runs and 25 walks in 31 and a third innings for a 2.01 ERA and has managed a 3-1 overall record.

“UAB has always got a good program,” Simoneaux said.

“We are going to make sure we are ready for them this weekend.”

Following the series with UAB, the Bulldogs will host Mississippi State, currently ranked No. 1 in the country, in Ruston on April 4.

MSU boasts a record of 19-1 on the season, including an 18 game opening run that included an 11-1 victory over Tech on March 7, and holds the top spot in the Baseball America poll and the second place spot in the College Baseball newspaper rankings.

The Bulldogs of Mississippi are led by a high powered offense including Thomas Berkery with a .403 average and 31 hits, and Joseph Hunter with 20 RBIs. The team contains 11 players batting better than .300.

Defensively, Josh Johnson has gone 4-0 from the mound with a 1.99 ERA for Mississippi State, while Brett Cleveland has allowed just nine hits with 14 strikeouts to amass four saves on the year.

“[Mississippi State] is a very powerful, good team,” Simoneaux said.

“We are not the same team we were when we faced them before. I would love to knock off the number one team in the country.”

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