RUSTON, La (KTVE/KARD) – The best way to describe Ryan Jennings’ dominance on the mound Saturday is simple. The fans in charge of tracking how many strikeouts he had, ran out of K’s to put on the right-centerfield wall.
Jennings ended the afternoon with a career-high 14 strikeouts over seven innings pitched. Possibly even more impressive than the 14 strikeouts, was Jennings did not walk a single batter on the afternoon en route to his second win of the season.
It had been a full three weeks since Jennings had last made a start in his Saturday role that he began the year in. The redshirt junior lost his role in the starting rotation after a tough start to the season. But was able to win it back with his performances out of the bullpen the last couple of weeks.
“Ryan lost that spot and he battled to get it back. He was great out of the bullpen and he earned it. He went out there today and dealt,” said Bulldogs skipper Lane Burroughs following the 9-3 win over Rice on Saturday.
Jennings acknowledged his struggles and says that he went into Saturday’s start with a new attitude, “It was just kind of frustration that I haven’t lived up to what I know I could be. Coming back just changed the mindset to not think about mechanics, not think about too much on the mound and go out there and pitch,”
The only blip on the afternoon for Jennings is what opened up the scoring in the game. A pitch that caught too much of the plate that Rice leadoff hitter Jack Riedel tattooed off the scoreboard in right. Jennings had some words for Riedel as he stood at home plate and watched his home run leave the ballpark. After that, Jennings retired 14 of the next 16 Owl batters.
Offensively, it was a tale of two halves for the Bulldogs on Saturday. Through four innings, Tech stranded four runners on base, including having a chance with the bases loaded and no one out. But a strikeout to Matulia and a Corona double play ended the inning with no runs and a lot of frustration.
“You can feel the tension when you’re not scoring and struggling offensively, you can feel the tension in the dugout and those are good hitters up there. Then you get the punch out and you go — oh if we get a double play here, we’re going to get no runs– and we get the double play.” Burroughs said about the teams’ offensive struggles early.
The flood gates opened however in the 5th inning. After Wade Elliot was hit by a pitch that ended Owl’s starter Alex DeLeon’s day, Taylor Young greeted new pitcher Garret Zaskoda by lacing an RBI triple into right-center field. A Logan McLeod single and Steele Netterville home run, and suddenly, the Bulldogs had a lead they would never give up.
“We kept setting up innings and every time we scored we got a shutdown inning,” Burroughs said referencing the different ways this team scores runs compared to the 2021 team.
The Bulldogs and Owls will complete their series Sunday at 1 p.m. at J.C. Love Field