LA Tech walks off UL-Lafayette in 2019 home opener
RUSTON, La. – The Louisiana Tech baseball team utilized a two-out single to center field from senior right fielder Mason Robinson, clinching a 3-2 walk-off victory in the bottom of the 10th inning over UL-Lafayette on Wednesday evening from J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park.
Tech (4-0), after staking a three-game road sweep last weekend, claimed its first home victory of the year in dramatic fashion. After scoring 40 runs in the series against the Lions, offense was hard to come by for both the Bulldogs and Ragin’ Cajuns (1-3) on Wednesday night, as the teams combined for 15 hits (10 for UL-Lafayette and 5 for Tech) and just five runs in the contest.
“The hits didn’t necessarily show up on the scoreboard tonight, but I thought our guys put together great at-bats as a unit,” head coach Lane Burroughs remarked. “The little things won us the ballgame tonight. I’m just proud of the way our guys grinded out at-bats and stuck with it tonight. The hits weren’t flashing, but we outscored them at the end, and that’s what matters.”
With the score even at two in the bottom of the 10th, Parker Bates reached after a one-out throwing error from Hayden Cantrelle at shortstop. Then, Bates advanced to second on a wild pitch followed by a nine-pitch walk from senior Tanner Huddleston. With runners on first and second, freshman Philip Matulia pinch hit for Shelton Wallace and reached on a fielder’s choice. Huddleston slid hard into second, breaking up any chance of a ULL double play and extending the inning for the Bulldogs.
Then, with runners at the corners and two outs, senior Mason Robinson took a 2-2 pitch back up the middle, scoring Bates and ending the game in walk-off fashion.
Jonathan Fincher (1-0) picked up his first career victory as the pitcher of record, tossing a scoreless top of the 10th and striking out the side on just 16 pitches.
After a tough pitching weekend in Hammond, the Bulldogs pitchers responded with a solid outing on Wednesday. Senior Matt Miller made the start, going 4.2 innings while allowing just one earned run on a solo home run from Hunter Kasuls in the top of the fourth. Miller struck out seven batters, while walking just two and allowed just three hits.
Fellow senior Logan Bailey entered in relief of Miller in the fifth and tossed one and a third innings of scoreless ball allowing just two hits and striking out one.
Tech would take its first lead of the game in the sixth inning after a two-out, two-RBI single from Steele Netterville plated both Robinson and Wallace, giving the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead.
The Cajuns would threaten in the top of the ensuing inning off of new Tech pitcher Kyle Griffen. Griffen began the frame with a strikeout of Breaux, but then back-to-back-to-back singles (two infield) quickly loaded the bases with one out.
Senior RHP Braxton Smith then entered the game for Griffen and made an athletic leaping grab and flip to home on a chopper back to the mound for out number two. Smith, still dealing with the bases loaded, got a fly ball to left from Lahare. Mallard, who had moved into left for Netterville the previous half inning made an incredible sprawling catch heading towards the warning track, saving at least two runs and protecting the Tech one-run lead.
Neither team could scratch a run in the eighth, and then in the of the ninth, ULL quickly placed runners at first and third after a leadoff walk from Breaux and a sharply hit single from Spears off the glove of Huddleston at third. Gavin Bourgeois singled home Breaux, tying the game at two.
Right-hander Tyler Follis entered in relief of Smith with runners at second and third and one out and got an electric strikeout and groundout, to preserve the tie.
UL-Lafayette starter Jacob Shultz made it through five innings, allowing just two hits while striking out three in a scoreless start. Michael Leaumont was the losing pitcher, tossing 3.1 innings and just one hit, while walking a pair.
Robinson ended the game as the only Bulldog with multiple hits, going 2-for-4 at the dish. Tanner Huddleston was 1-for-4 with a walk, while Steele Netterville had the big two-RBI single in the sixth.
The Bulldogs will look to keep the momentum rolling at home this weekend, taking on Troy (2-2) in a three-game weekend series:
Friday – No game
Saturday – 3 p.m.
Sunday – 11 a.m. (doubleheader) (Game three will start approximately 40 minutes after game two)
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