LA Tech run-rules Sacramento State, 14-4

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RUSTON — A seven-run fourth inning punctuated by three homers, and a solid start by Louisiana Tech righthander Reed Smith – one run on three hits, five strikeouts and no walks through five innings – was too much for visiting Sacramento State.

Tech run-ruled the Hornets 14-4 in eight innings in a non-conference matchup on a cool and mild Tuesday night before 1,957 at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park.

The Bulldogs, 13-12, grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first when Dalton Davis walked and scored when catcher Jorge Corona hit a 2-1 pitch over the wall in right center field, the second consecutive game in which Corona has been responsible for Tech’s first two runs on a homer.

It would not be Corona’s or Tech’s final homer of the night.

Tech chased Hornet starter Zach Gagnon (1-1), making his eighth appearance and second start of the season, in the fateful fourth after he gave up a leadoff double to Adarius Myers and a single to Walker Burchfield. Tech third baseman Logan McCleod greeted Hornet reliever Tyler Stewart by shooting an 0-2 pitch between third and short to score Myers.

After the next two batters were retired, Tech’s lead went from 3-1 to 9-1 as Philip Matulia hit a three-run homer, Davis walked again and was knocked in by a Corona homer again, and Brody Drost scorched a solo shot to make it back-to-back home runs.

Tech added three in the sixth and pushed the run differential to 10 in the eighth on doubles by Myers and Birchfield and an RBI single by McLeod.

“I thought we played really good; everybody was locked in,” Tech coach Lane Burroughs said. “I told the guys before the game that it’s time to make our move. This is where the men are separated from the boys. We’ve won three of our last four; I’m proud of the way we played tonight.”

Smith, 1-2, made his 11th appearance and fifth start of the season. After solid efforts in late February against BYU and Nicholls State, the junior from Lufkin, Texas had labored in his past four outings – but not Tuesday.

“Reed was outstanding,” Burroughs said. “Five innings. Five punches. No walks. Three of our last four games, we’ve gotten good starts, and we’ve won all three of those.”

Corona was 4-for-5 with four RBIs and three runs scored, McLeod was 3-for-5 with three RBIs, Burchfield was 3-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored, and Davis was 2-for-2, walked three times and scored three times. Matulia knocked in three runs with his fourth-inning homer and scored twice.

Sacramento State, 12-12, a familiar Tech foe long ago when both teams played in the WAC, dropped two of three at Abilene Christian last weekend and sandwiched in the Tech game before playing another WAC opponent, Stephen F. Austin, this Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Meanwhile Tech welcomes Conference-USA’s Dallas Baptist, 17-8 and 4-2, to The Love Shack for a 6 p.m. game Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.

“It gets real now,” Burroughs said. “We’re heading into the third weekend of conference play and we haven’t played that well. But we’ve gotta look at the positives, look at the big picture; were 3-3 and tonight played to win instead of playing not to lose, which we’ve done at times this year. This is when we need to make our move. It’s time.”

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