Lethbridge-born pitcher Landen Bourassa struck out 16 batters in a single-game, tying Con Dempsey Jr.’s 75-year-old University of San Francisco Dons’ record, a feat Bourassa was unaware he matched until after the game.
“My coach kind of came up to me after and was like: ‘Hey man, that was pretty cool,’ and explained it to me,” the 24-year-old senior hurler said.
“It kind of shocked me but it’s pretty remarkable, obviously, the kind of history we’ve got here, over 90 years of baseball at our school.”
“It’s just cool.”
Bourassa’s outing also marked the first complete game shutout by a USF Dons pitcher in six years, in his longest start of the season.
Mat Keplinger has watched Bourassa the past two season as the Dons pitching coach and isn’t surprised by his performance.
“There’s a responsibility that comes with pitching on Friday nights and that job is to set the tone for the weekend and Landen’s done such a good job all year,” said Keplinger.
“That night specifically just capped off the month that he had.”
After undergoing Tommy John surgery and missing the 2019 season, Bourassa says the difference between this season and last is night and day.
“Last season I had a game where I threw five innings, but between each inning I’d have to come and put a heat pack on my elbow. I had to keep it loose so it didn’t stiffen up.”
“This year it’s a little more normal.”
Now in his second season post-surgery, Bourassa is able to take on a heavier workload on the mound.
“It’s basically just getting months and innings under your belt. It’s all a process, just a day-by-day thing,” said Bourassa. “There’s some ups and there’s some downs, but just like anything else in your life, you go through it.”
Keplinger sees the biggest strides in Bourassa’s mental side of the game, allowing the former four-time Chinook high school male athlete of the year to pitch deep into ballgames.
“He has his process and routine so dialed in now, so it’s really about staying sharp,” said Keplinger.
“It’s studying the opponent, because I think he has such a good understanding of himself right now.
“Now we can apply that to exploiting some weaknesses in the opponent and he enjoys diving into scouting reports.”
Playing minor baseball in Lethbridge, Bourassa also pitched one season for the hometown Bulls, where Jesse Sawyer was his coach. Sawyer is not surprised by Bourassa’s success and credits the pitcher’s work ethic.
“He was the guy you never had to worry about as his coach,” said Sawyer.
“You knew he was going to get his work in. You knew every five or six days he was going to go out there and compete for you on the bump and give his team a chance to win.”
The Dons currently sit third in the West Coast Conference standings and Bourassa’s focus remains on the stretch run and a WCC championship.
“It’s pitch-by-pitch, game-by-game. Just finish strong.”
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