Home » College baseball: Heavy hitting from Comeaux, McConnell and Bates lifts Tech past Middle Tennessee

College baseball: Heavy hitting from Comeaux, McConnell and Bates lifts Tech past Middle Tennessee

by Russell Hedges

By Branford Clay, Louisiana Tech Associate Director Strategic Communications

RUSTON — Multiple RBI days from Ethan Bates and Grant Comeaux carry No. 1 Louisiana Tech over No. 8 Middle Tennessee in the first of the CUSA Conference Tournament. No. 1 Louisiana Tech (42-15, 19-6 CUSA) secured an 8-2 victory over No. 8 Middle Tennessee (20-35, 8-17 CUSA) after the game was postponed on Wednesday due to weather in the area.

LA Tech has now won four straight first-round CUSA Tournament games following the victory over Middle Tennessee. Ethan Bates and Grant Comeaux got Tech going after Bates batted in the first run for Tech after an RBI single to right center, sending Dalton Davis to score. Later, Comeaux would bat in a 2 RBI single that sent Jorge Corona and Ethan Bates home. 

In the second inning, Middle Tennessee put a lone run on the scoreboard following a Brady Holloway home run to right center. Eventually, Tech, in the fourth inning, put three runs on the board, growing the lead to five. Comeaux (4-for-4, 3 RBI, HR) homered to left field and growing Tech’s lead to 4-1. The Lake Charles native went a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate, which also tied his season-high RBI in a game with three after putting up three against Middle Tennessee. Cole McConnell would follow with his 18th home run this season after he sent one out to the Kennel in right center. 

Ethan Bates, in the seventh inning, earned his 70th RBI this season when he singled to right field, which allowed Kasten Furr and Comeaux to get home, putting the game at 8-1 in Tech’s favor. Middle Tennessee later, in the eighth inning, got their second run of the game following a Gabe Jennings RBI double. The game was postponed in the ninth inning to Thursday morning following a weather delay. 

Reed Smith (7-3) went 6.0 innings, put up four strikeouts with four hits, and allowed one run. Sam Brodersen went 2.0 innings, striking out five batters and giving up one run, but allowed one hit and one walk. 

Head Coach Lane Burroughs:
“I am proud of our guys. It was a strange ending. I did not get much sleep last night. You know you have Ethan Bates going who is an All-American and you only need three outs but it is an unsettling feeling to go home and get into bed. You want to get that win and get it over with. I am very proud of our guys. 

On Reed Smith
Reed Smith was outstanding. He did not have his best stuff. He knows me and he came in after the fourth and was yelling at me don’t take me out. It was getting close and I was ready to make a move. All he did was battle and compete. He is our foxhole guy. He is the toughest guy on the team that everybody loves which is what competitors do.”

On Cole McConnel’s catch in center field…
“Cole’s catch in center field was one of the better plays I have seen. It is good to see him moving like he is capable of. He has been nursing a sore back.”

On Grant Comeaux
“Four hits and a home run. He is just a winner. He played at one of the best high schools in the country at Barbe. He redshirted last year and took it like a man. He has played some first for us this year and has done so well.”

On Reed Smith‘s start…
“It is huge. Anytime you are in a week-long tournament or if you’re in a regional or super regional it is not as important. When you’re in a week-long when you have to go to that bullpen early you are in trouble. If you are in the loser’s bracket somebody has to step up. In 2021 Cade Hodges stepped up for us at Southern Miss. There is always somebody that has to step up and be counted on if you’re going to make it to Sunday. It was huge for him to get six innings, Sam Broderson finished it out last night. Obviously, the ball was getting wet towards the end and they called at least an hour delay. It was very important to get a quality start. If you have to go to a pen too early you put yourself in a hole there early in the tournament.”

No. 1 Louisiana Tech will play the winner of the No. 4 Sam Houston and No. 5 Liberty on Saturday at 12:30 PM.

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