No. 16 LA Tech extends road winning streak to 10 games, sweeps series at Middle Tennessee

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MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Ten straight.

No. 16 Louisiana Tech recorded its 10th straight road victory with a 6-1 win at Middle Tennessee on Sunday afternoon, extending the program record it set after Saturday’s doubleheader sweep to 10 consecutive wins away from J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park. The Bulldogs’ 10-game road winning streak is the longest active streak in the nation.

“To get out of here with a sweep after the way we played last weekend, I’m just proud of our guys,” head coach Lane Burroughs said. “You can never get bored of beating people, and it would’ve been great to get three of four, but it’s even better to win four out of four.

“This was a huge weekend for us.”

LA Tech (32-11, 18-6 C-USA) led from the first inning of Sunday’s game and never lost the lead, scoring three runs in the opening inning with two outs. Centerfielder Parker Bates kept the inning alive with a two-out single before Manny Garcia crushed an RBI double into the gap in left center to score Bates all the way from first base.

With a 1-0 lead, designated hitter Steele Netterville stepped to the plate and launched his seventh home run of the season on a 1-1 pitch. Netterville’s towering shot to left field collided with the façade of the football stadium behind the outfield wall, making it a 3-0 Bulldog lead.

After the Blue Raiders trimmed LA Tech’s lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the first, right-hander Jarret Whorff worked through traffic to deliver four straight scoreless frames. Whorff picked up his team-best eighth pitching victory after striking out five Blue Raiders across five frames, moving to 8-1 on the season and lowering his ERA to 3.15.

Back-to-back singles from Bates and Garcia opened the top of the fifth for the Bulldogs. A one-out walk from right fielder Philip Matulia, who drew the walk after being down 0-2 in the count, then loaded the bases for seven-hole batter Cole McConnell. McConnell served a fly ball into center field on an 0-1 pitch, allowing Bates to tag up from third to make it 4-1.

Pandemonium then ensued in the bottom of the fifth, which saw two doubles from the Blue Raiders result in no runs scored for the home team. After Briggs Rutter doubled to open the inning, Hunter Sullivan lifted a fly ball back to the wall in left field. McConnell reached up for the ball, but he was unable to bring it in.

The home dugout thought the ball had left the yard and bounced back in to the field of play, which would’ve resulted in a two-run home run to trim Tech’s lead to 4-3. Instead, the play was ruled a double off the left-field wall, putting runners at second and third with just one out. Whorff responded after the 10-minute delay in play by striking out Brett Escher for the second out before getting Brett Coker to ground out to second base to end the fifth.

An RBI single from Matulia in the seventh made it 5-1 Bulldogs before a two-out single from shortstop Alex Ray put the Bulldogs up 6-1 in the top of the ninth.

Right-handed reliever Kyle Crigger posted four scoreless frames out of the LA Tech bullpen to nail down the series sweep. Crigger scattered four hits while striking out four batters and allowing no walks to notch his fourth save of the season. Crigger used double-play balls in the seventh and eighth to face the minimum in both frames.

Matulia, who finished the series 8-for-12 with a home run, two doubles and four runs scored, reached base all five times in Sunday’s game with three singles and a pair of walks. Third baseman Hunter Wells finished the day with a pair of doubles to lift his team-best batting average to .356 on the season.

The Bulldogs will put their 10-game road winning streak to the test with their final Conference USA road series of the season at FIU next weekend. LA Tech is 11-1 in C-USA road games in 2021.

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