Why keep the raucous home crowd waiting when you can rocket a first-inning home run to race to the early lead on an historic night.
Louisiana Tech senior Hunter Wells opened up his record-setting NCAA regional performance by cranking a two-run shot in the first, exciting the more than 2,600 fans in attendance for the program’s first NCAA Tournament home game. In his second at-bat, he set the program mark for career hits at 270.
In the eighth, he smashed a grand slam as the Bulldogs won 18-2 over Rider (23-17) on Friday night at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park.
The Bulldogs (41-18) move on the meet North Carolina State (31-17) on Saturday at 6 p.m. CT. The Wolfpack beat Alabama, 8-1, in the early game Friday.
Wells plated five of Tech’s first six runs against the champions of the MAAC and finished with nine RBIs and three hits, pacing a Tech offense that stayed hot from last week’s Conference USA Tournament runner-up run. The Bulldogs pounded Broncs’ staff for 18 runs on 14 hits, scoring the most runs they’ve had since a 20-6 win at Rice April 10.
Starter Jonathan Fincher (8-3) returned to his season-long form in the biggest start of his career. The lefty threw eight innings, giving up two earned runs on six hits.
The Shreveport native applied the pressure to Rider’s offense with his command, throwing 62 strikes out of 97 pitches.