Fincher, Matuuuuulia, LA Tech systematically dismantle Nicholls
RUSTON – Senior lefty Jonathan Fincher gave up one run through seven innings and fellow team captain and senior Phillip Matulia had basketball’s version of a quadruple double – five RBIs, four hits, four runs scored, and two home runs – as Louisiana Tech dismantled Nicholls, 11-1, before 2,030 on a cool, clear Friday night at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park.
Tech (3-2) scored in six different innings, including three-run innings in both the sixth and seventh, and rode the pitching of Fincher (1-1) to beat the Colonels (3-3) in the first of three games scheduled this weekend. The two teams play Game 2 of the series Saturday at 2 p.m. and complete the three-game set Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Colonels scored as early as they possibly could as leadoff hitter Wes Toups homered on Fincher’s and the game’s first pitch. It was all they’d get off Conference USA’s Preseason Pitcher of the Year.
“Told the guys tonight in pregame I’d be shocked if Jonathan Fincher doesn’t give us a quality start,” Tech coach Lane Burroughs said. “That’s what great players do; they come back. Had a pretty rough outing last week when we were on the other end of one of these things, (a 10-1 loss to BYU in the season opener, a game Fincher started, last Friday).
“I’m proud of the way the guys responded tonight and proud of the way Jonathan pitched,” Burroughs said. “We threw up a zero after they scored in the first and put several crooked numbers up there. We had some guys step up who needed to. I thought the guys and the crowd were just great.”
Tech evened things at 1-1 in the bottom of the second when left-handed hitting Matulia – or “Matuuuuuulia” as Love Shack fans are used to hearing him introduced – started the party when he pulled a no-doubt liner to right into The Kennel to tie things at 1-1. The Bulldogs then took the lead when Jorge Corona doubled down the left-field line, moved to third on a balk and scored on a sacrifice as Toups, the centerfielder, dove to snag a liner off the bat of Adarius Myers.
Tech made it 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth on back-to-back doubles by Walker Burchfield and Logan McLeod.
Matulia got things going again in the fifth with a leadoff double down the line past the diving first baseman Edgar Alvarez. Then with one out, his roommate and fellow team captain, Myers, doubled him in off the left center wall for a 4-1 lead and his second RBI of the game.
That rally chased Colonels veteran Friday night starter Tyler Theriot. Nicholls used seven pitchers. Tech’s Isaac Crabb, a junior right-hander out of Wabash Valley Junior College in Mount Carmel, Illinois, pitched a pair of scoreless innings in relief of Fincher.
Burchfield had three hits and McLeod had two; each of them, along with Myers, knocked in a pair of runs. Oh, and in case anyone’s interested, Matulia added an opposite-field homer in the seventh, a three-run shot, the exclamation point that ended the scoring.
The Bulldogs play at NCAA defending national champion Ole Miss Tuesday and Wednesday, both games scheduled for a 4 p.m. first pitch, then are back in The Love Shack for single games Friday (6 p.m.), Saturday (2 p.m.) and Sunday (noon) against Northwestern of the Big 10 Conference.
• LA Tech now leads the all-time series over Nicholls State, 16-14. The Bulldogs have won 10 of the last 13 meetings versus the Colonels.
• LA Tech reached double-digit runs for a second straight game, scoring a season-high 11. They also produced a season-high 14 hits.
• The Bulldogs collected eight extra-base hits, including six doubles and two home runs.
• Jonathan Fincher recorded his 20th career victory on the mound (one shy of cracking the top 10 in program history). It was the ninth time in his career he has gone at least seven innings and the fifth time he has gone at least seven while allowing one or no runs.
• Philip Matulia tallied a career-high four hits as well as a career-high five RBIs. The senior also had his first career multi-homer game and has now homered in three straight games.
• Dalton Davis extended his hitting streak to five (only Bulldog to record at least one hit in all five games this season).
• Brody Drost had three walks in the game.He has walked five times from the leadoff spot in the last two games.
LA Tech and Nicholls State play game two of their three-game series on Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Love Shack.
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