LA Tech sweeps UAB in league openers

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Louisiana Tech used a pair of five-run seventh innings Saturday to record come-from-behind victories over UAB in a Conference USA doubleheader at Mary Bowers Field.

Tech (19-7, 2-0 C-USA) trailed the Blazers (9-17, 0-5) heading into the top of the seventh in both games before exploding offensively for crooked numbers in the two victories.

Freshman Hannah Koenig picked up a pair of wins in relief in the circle.

“I couldn’t be more proud of this team for the fight they showed today,” said Tech head coach Mark Montgomery. “Jimmy Kolaitis does an outstanding job with his team and they were prepared for this series. We had to really dig deep late in both games and so many players came up with so many big plays, both offensively and defensively.

“Hannah was huge for us in the circle. She came in and really settled things down and came up with some pressure outs for us. Our defense behind all of our pitchers was solid in both games. And with both games on the line late, we had some great at bats and came up with some big hits. It was a complete team effort.

“As happy as we are with these two wins, we know … this group knows … we can’t be content. Every game in league play is so important. We found that out last season when we missed out on the championship by less than a full game. Tomorrow is just as important as today and just as important as the last weekend of the regular season.”

Tech will close out the three-game series with a single game Sunday at 1 p.m.

Game 1: LA Tech 8, UAB 4

With Tech trailing 4-3 in the top of the seventh inning, Bayli Simon launched a no-doubt three-run home run over the left field fence to fuel a 5-run frame and the Lady Techsters recorded the come-from-behind victory.

Simon deposited the first pitch she saw from UAB starter Emily Kachel into the net in left field, scoring Lindsay Edwards (single) and pinch runner AJ Williams and giving Tech a 6-4 lead. With two outs, Kimmie Atienza walked and Morgan Turkoly doubled before Atienza scored on a wild pitch. Jazlyn Crowder then drove Turkoly home with an RBI single to cap the frame.

Koenig (5-1), who came on in relief of starter Preslee Gallaway in the sixth inning, retired UAB in order in the seventh for the win. Koenig got help from her defense in the final inning as second baseman Berkley Calapp made an unbelievable catch in foul territory down the right field line for the first out of the frame.

Tech took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning as Atienza walked and Turkoly singled. Zoe Hicks then drove Atienza home with an RBI ground out for the first run of the day.

UAB tied the game with a single run in the first and then plated two more runs in the bottom of the second to take a 3-1 advantage. Tech responded in the top of the third inning, tying the game at 3-3. Calapp doubled and scored on Turkoly’s triple off the top of the right field wall. Turkoly then scored on a wild pitch.

UAB first baseman Rachel Owens gave the Blazers the lead in the bottom of the fourth inning with a solo home run to left centerfield against Gallaway. The score remained 4-3 until Tech exploded in the seventh inning.

Turkoly (3-4, 2 runs, RBI), Atienza (2 runs), Crowder (1-4, RBI), Hicks (1-4, RBI), Lindsay Edwards (1-3), Simon (1-3, HR, 3 RBI, run), Calapp (1-2, run), Rizzato (run) and Williams (run) led Tech offensively.

Koenig picked up the win, tossing two scoreless innings of relief.

Game 2: LA Tech 7, UAB 4

The second game of the day followed a familiar pattern as Tech found itself trailing 4-2 heading into the top of the seventh inning before erupting for five runs.

With one out, Sloane Stewartson worked a walk and Kimmie Atienza reached on an infield single. Turkoly then drove a single to left field, scoring pinch runner AJ Williams and cutting the deficit to 4-3. Jazlyn Crowder tied the game at 4-4 as she doubled down the right field line on a full-count pitch, scoring Atienza.

With runners on second and third and  one out, Zoe Hicks greeted UAB relief pitcher Bailey Barnes with a two-run single up the middle as Tech took a 6-4 lead. One out later, Hicks scored on a fielding error by UAB shortstop Natalie Erwin to push the Tech lead to 7-4.

For the second straight game, Hannah Koenig came on in relief and got the win. After pitching a scoreless sixth inning, Koenig got the first batter of the seventh before giving way to Jenny Chapman. Chapman proceeded to get a pop up to third base and a strikeout looking for the final two outs, picking up her second save of the season.

Tech plated single runs in the second and third innings to take a 2-0 lead. Mary Terral doubled home Hicks who reached on an error and advanced to third on a double by Lindsay Edwards in the second inning.

In the top of the third inning, Atienza walked and move to third with two outs. Hicks then reached on an error by the UAB first baseman on a throw from second that would have been the final out of the inning. Tech led 2-0.

UAB answered in the bottom of the fourth inning against Lady Techster starter Krystal De La Cruz. Dylinn Stancil singled to centerfield and then scored on Jenna Olszewski’s two-run home run to left field. UAB added a third run after a double and a passed ball.

The Blazers added a run in the bottom of the fifth inning to take a 4-2 lead.

Atienza (2-4, run), Turkoly (1-4, run, RBI), Crowder (2-4, run, RBI), Hicks (1-4, 2 runs, 2 RBI), Edwards (1-3), Terral (2-4, RBI) and Williams (run) led Tech offensively.

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