Cue Aretha Franklin.
What does the Louisiana Tech baseball team have to do to earn a little respect from The Baton Rouge Advocate?
It’s nothing new, of course. Years ago, before e-mail and other electronic media, we were told by The Advocate Sports Department that Tech wasn’t calling in results of its football game—only we happened to know they were.
And then we’ve heard the latest excuse for ignoring the Bulldogs: Tech is out of The Advocate’s coverage area, followed by the logic that Tech is the only Louisiana team in Conference USA.
That’s pretty lame, guys. Guess it never occurred to you that the Tech roster contains a couple of names that just might generate a little local interest.
Kelby Blalock is a senior left-handed pitcher and Cody Daigle is a junior infielder. Both are from Baton Rouge. Brennan Grant is a freshman infielder from St. Amant, Adam Derouen, a senior right-handed pitcher is from Lafayette.
It might even be of some interest to check out some of the stats for Tech. Raphael Gladu from Quebec is batting .362. Chase Lunceford of Clinton, Miss., is batting .333 and leads the team with 10 home runs, 47 RBI, and has a slugging percentage of .585. J.D. Perry of Birmingham, AL., is hitting .328 and has an on-base percentage of .506.
Pitcher Adam Atkins of Cedar Hill, Texas, is 6-0 with an earned-run average of a paltry 1.10. In 41 innings pitched he has struck out 53 while walking only 10 and allowing only six runs. Casey Sutton of Monroe is 7-1 with an ERA of only 1.63. In 77.1 innings, he has struck out 42, walked 20 and given up only 17 runs.
As a team, Tech is batting .291 with 40 home runs while opponents are hitting .248. Tech’s team ERA is a healthy 3.64 to 5.65 for opponents. Tech pitchers have issued 190 walks against 247 for opponents.
So, what was the headline in today’s online edition of The Advocate after the NCAA tournament pairings were announced? http://theadvocate.com/sports/lsu/15950061-172/live-updates-ncaa-baseball-tournament-bracket-release-at-11-am-see-where-lsu-tulane-ul-lafayete-ot
Typical. With the exception of LSU, which lost the same number but won two more, Tech had better records than each of the other three teams heralded in The Advocate headline.
The Advocate at one time was known as the Louisiana newspaper, providing in-depth coverage to all the state’s sports teams—even high schools. It’s pretty obvious that title has been abdicated.
Okay, so The Advocate has no obligation to provide the same coverage afforded Southeastern, ULL, Southern and, of course, LSU. We get that. We don’t expect that. But the paper could at least keep readers informed that Tech does have an athletic program, and a pretty good one at that. A five-or six-paragraph story would be nice once in a while. Instead, we get the agate scores and Tech is not even always included in those.
Harking back that excuse of Tech being “out of the coverage area” of The Advocate, we found these relevant headlines in The Advocate over the weekend. They must have had a lot of Baton Rouge readers waiting on the edge of their collective seats to hear these riveting stories:
Friday, May 27:
Team Forfeits One Week of Workouts (Baltimore Ravens apparently violated a labor agreement by holding a week of offseason practices.)
Second-Round Pick Kevin Dodd Undergoes Foot Surgery (Tennessee Titans’ second-round pick is going to be out of action until the start of training camp.)
Saturday, May 28:
Michigan Spent over $346K on football trip (Well, Les Miles did once play for Michigan.)
Man United hires Mourinho as manager (Vital soccer news from Manchester, England.)
Champions League final set Saturday (So important they don’t even specify what sport.)
Sunday, May 29:
Real Madrid wins Champions League (Ah. Turns out it was soccer—from Milan, Italy.)
Former NC State, BC assistant dies at 58 (NC State and Boston College are farther from Baton Rouge than Tech, right?)
Monday, May 30:
Hamilton wins thrilling Monaco Grand Prix (Monaco? Really?)
Soccer star kidnapped, police mount hunt (Kidnappings in Ciudad Victoria, Mexico, are always more relevant than Louisiana schools, right?)
But Try finding the results of the Conference USA tournament results anywhere in The Advocate. Give up? So did we.
But, it turns out, a Conference USA team that Tech defeated a three times this year, including once in the Conference USA tournament, will be in Baton Rouge this week for the LSU Regional. Rice, which won a national championship not too many years ago, will be paired with LSU, Southeastern and Utah Valley at LSU’s Alex Box Stadium this week.
Tech, meanwhile, will be in the Starkville Regional, paired with Mississippi State, Cal State Fullerton, and Southeast Missouri. Should Tech prevail in that tournament, the Bulldogs will be paired in the Super Regional with the winner of the Lafayette Regional that includes ULL, Arizona, Sam Houston State and Princeton.
And Tech may well go two and through in Starkville. But that by no means the Bulldogs are deserving of the shabby treatment afforded Tech by The Advocate on such a consistent and long-running basis.
Granted, Tech baseball has been pretty awful in recent years. It was difficult watching them win only 15 wins in 2014. But then they went out and got themselves a coach. Greg Goff, only 39, chalked up 10 more wins in 2015 than the previous year’s team, going 25-27—the second-highest winning percentage of any first-year baseball coach in Tech history. Moreover, the ‘Dogs ran off 12 consecutive non-conference wins to end the 2015 season, a program record.
Yeah, yeah, we know. A 25-27 record is nothing to write home about, given the stellar seasons put together by LSU, Southeastern, and ULL in 2015. So what about this year?
Well, in 2016, Tech upped its game by another 15 wins, going 40-18 overall and 19-11 in the conference. That’s a 25-game improvement in only two years—equivalent to half a season improvement.
Following a fifth-place finish in the 12-team Conference USA, Tech opened the conference tournament by dropping a 13-12 decision to Rice (fourth place in Conference USA) before routing Charlotte, 13-3, and defeating Florida Atlantic (the overall Conference USA champion), 5-4, to set up a rematch with Rice. Tech took the first game, 13-10 before being eliminated by Rice in the nightcap, 11-9. Southern Miss (which finished third in Conference USA) edged Rice, 3-2 to win the conference tournament.
This year, LSU was 19-11 in SEC play and 42-18 overall, including a 6-3 win over Tech. Granted, the SEC is much stronger than Conference USA but still, Tech managed an identical conference record and was 40-18 overall. The 40-18 overall record, by the way, was second in the conference, a half-game ahead of Southern Miss, which was 39-18 and a half-game ahead of Florida Atlantic, though Florida Atlantic’s won-loss percentage squeaked by Tech, .691 to .690 (try figuring that out).
Tech’s conference record (.633, same as LSU), was a half-game behind Rice’ 19-10 (.655) and a game back of Southern Miss (20-10, .667). So, while finishing fifth in its conference, the final standings were very close.
Here’s how Tech stacked up against LSU, conference foes and the rest of Louisiana’s schools:
LSU 19-11 .633 42-18 .700
FLORIDA ATLANTIC 21-8 .724 38-17 .691
LOUISIANA TECH 19-11 .633 40-18 .690
SOUTHERN MISS 20-10 .667 39-18 .684
RICE 19-10 .655 35-21 .625
SOUTHEASTERN 22-8 .733 39-18 .684
NORTHWESTERN 20-10 .667 33-24 .579
McNEESE 14-16 .467 31-25 .554
UNO 14-16 .467 31-26 .544
NICHOLLS STATE 14-16 .467 26-30 .464
ULL 21-9 .700 40-19 .678
ULM 10-20 .333 20-35 .364
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
Tulane 16-7 .682 39-19 .672
GRAMBLING 15-8 .652 22-27 .449
SOUTHERN 6-14 .300 14-32 .304
TOTAL (Excluding Tech) 152-124 .551 295-255 .536
LOUISIANA TECH 19-11 .633 40-18 .690
But you’d never know that from reading The Advocate.