May 22, 2009
WAC TOURNAMENT: Ewing’s walk-off propels Louisiana Tech to 4-3 win
Bulldogs now face New Mexico State at midnight local time
News-Star news services
HONOLULU -- In an night that included a record-breaking home run by Devon Dageford, Clint Ewing’s two-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning catapulted Louisiana Tech to a 4-3 victory over Hawai’i Thursday evening at Les Murakami Stadium.
“Our pitchers pitched extremely well besides a few blunders on defense,” Tech head coach Wade Simoneaux said. “Our hitters continued to be relentless at the plate as they totaled 13 hits.
“Our players believe we can win. We need to take that same approach in front of a much smaller crowd (Friday) against New Mexico State. We need to play with energy and be ready to go because the Aggies are a quality opponent.”
Since Tech finished the season as the No. 2 seed, they were the home team and thus had the final at-bat Thursday night.
The impressive victory improved the Bulldogs’ overall record to 29-20. Hawai’i is now 31-25 on the year.
With the ballgame tied at two after seven innings, Hawai’i took a one-run lead on a wild pitch by Bulldog reliever John Anderson. The Rainbows had an opportunity to increase their lead in the inning as they had a runner on third base, but Anderson was able to record two strikeouts to end the inning.
Anderson did not allow a Rainbow to reach base in the ninth inning as he sat down the opposition in order. At the end of nine-and-a-half, Tech trailed by only one run.
Mark Threlkeld led off the bottom of the ninth inning with his first hit of the night, a single. Clint Stubbs pinch ran for Threlkeld and soon after, stole second base. With a runner in scoring position and one out, Ewing blasted a two-run walk-off home run to seal a 4-3 victory for the Bulldogs.
“I was looking to drive a fastball,” Ewing said. “At the very least, I wanted to hit the ball into a gap to score Clint. (Spangler) started me off with two sliders, and I was able to work the count to 1-1. He threw a fastball in and thankfully I did not miss it.”
Ewing’s homer was Tech’s third walk-off this season. It also marked his second walk-off of his career. On April 27, 2008 against Hawai’i, Tech’s seven-run ninth inning, which included a total of three home runs, was highlighted by a three-run smash by Ewing.
“It is a great feeling to start off our tournament with a win,” Ewing said. “I am glad we won, especially for our seniors. I don’t want to see them lose or let them down.”
Ewing’s seventh long ball of the season was not the only home run of the night as Dageford shattered the previous LA Tech single season home run record of 21, held by four Bulldogs: T.J. Soto, Ed Beuerlein, Ken Shamburg and Brian Myrow. The new home run king hit his 22nd home run of the season, a solo shot, to tie the game in the sixth inning.
“It was exciting to hit that home run, but I’m just glad we won the game,” Dageford said. “I was also glad I could help the team out and tie the game. I was looking for a fastball and fortunately got it.”
Tech’s hitting was not the only story of the night as Bulldog pitchers contributed a solid effort.
Bulldog starter Jeb Stefan allowed two runs (both earned) on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings. He was responsible for stranding nine of Hawai’i 13 base runners on the evening.
Reliever Mike Jefferson was able to escape a bases loaded jam in the seventh inning. The eventual game-winner, Anderson, struck out three in 1 2/3 innings.
Hawai’i turned three double plays on the evening; all three were inning-ending.
Tech’s victory over Hawai’i was their first post-season win since they defeated Sacramento State 14-9 in the 2006 WAC Tournament in Fresno, Calif.
Patrick Thomas’ RBI single in the fifth inning scored Kyle Roliard. The RBI was Tech’s 397th of the season, second most in school history. The RBI record is held by the 2007 team, which totaled 408 RBI.
The Bulldogs will now take on the No. 4 seed New Mexico State Saturday morning at midnight local time. On Thursday, the Aggies defeated the No. 3 seed Fresno State 7-4. Since New Mexico State was the visitor in their game against Fresno State, they will be the home team.
Tech’s second game of the tournament can be heard on ESPN 97.7 FM or www.espn977.com online. Scott Robbs will begin the pregame show at approximately 11:50 p.m. CST.
Live stats will be available at www.latechsports.com.