Contributed by: LA Tech Athletic Communications
RUSTON, La. – The Louisiana Tech baseball team held off a hard-charging Old Dominion squad to take an 11-8 series-clinching win on Senior Night, Friday evening from J.C. Love Field. In front of a crowd of 1,423, Tech staked its 20th conference win – marking the first time a Tech team has reached that threshold in program history.
“20 wins in conference play isn’t too shabby,” head coach Lane Burroughs said. “Hopefully we can come out tomorrow and get win number 21. Tonight wasn’t pretty. We played really well early, but I felt we lost focus in a lot of the phases of the game there late. We were able to corral it back in and find a way to win. Old Dominion isn’t going to roll over and quit. They’re going to keep fighting, because they’re well coached. I’m proud of our guys for getting that win tonight.”
The Bulldogs (37-18, 20-9 C-USA) raced out to an 11-2 lead after six innings, looking like a replica of last night’s result. However, the Monarchs (15-36, 7-21 C-USA) notched four in the seventh, one in the eighth, and one in the ninth, and eventually brought the tying run to the plate in the top of the ninth.
With runners at the corners and two outs, Tech reliever Kyle Griffen, buckled down and induced a game-ending 4-6-3 double play ground ball, to send the Bulldogs home winners on Senior Night.
Tech was once again led by the scorching hot bat of freshman Steele Netterville. The rookie designated hitter went 4-for-5 at the plate, scoring two runs and driving in two, while, for the second night in a row, finishing just a triple shy of the cycle.
Reigning C-USA Hitter of the Week, Parker Bates, also continued his hot play, going 2-for-3 while scoring three runs, and driving in a game-high three.
Bates and Netterville have combined for an 11-for-15 mark at the plate in the first two games of this series. Bates is hitting .667 (4-for-6) while Netterville is 7-for-9, good for a .778 average in games one and two. The pair have combined for 13 of Tech’s 21 RBI, and have accounted for 26 of the team’s 40 total bases. Both Bates (.800) and Netterville (.778) have posted on-base percentages above .775 through the weekend’s first two games.
Tech starter Matt Miller (5-4) picked up his fifth win of the year, while allowing just two runs (both earned) on five hits across five innings of work. After walking at least one batter in each of his last six starts, Miller was pinpoint in his last home start of 2018 – striking out six, while walking none.
The Monarchs got the scoring started in the first inning, after an RBI single from Kyle Battle, drove home Matt Schwarz, who led the game off with a double to left.
Miller settled down after allowing the one run in the first, and put up zeros in the ensuing second, third and fourth innings, giving the Tech offense ample opportunity to take a lead.
In the bottom of the first, the Bulldog offense obliged, after an RBI single from Parker Bates, drove home Taylor Young, who led off the game being hit by a pitch. Netterville followed Bates with an RBI single of his own, bringing home senior Dalton Skelton, who had walked with one out. Tech tacked on another run after a FC from Huddleston allowed Bates to cross home, putting the Bulldogs ahead, 3-1 after one.
Old Dominion starter Hunter Gregory (3-5) would keep Tech off the board in the second, but the methodical offensive approach got to young freshman, as the Bulldogs scored in each of the next four innings.
Tech would add three more in the third after sac flies from both Huddleston and Robinson. Mason Mallard also added an RBI double, snapping a long hitless streak for the Tech leftfielder.
Leading 6-1, the Bulldogs added runs in both the fourth and fifth innings, courtesy of an RBI single from Skelton and a monstrous solo home run for Netterville, respectively. Then, with an 8-2 lead in the sixth, Tech plated three for the third inning of the night. Hunter Wells notched an RBI on a sac fly lineout to right, and then Parker Bates mashed his fourth home run of the year – a two-run shot to right-center, giving Tech an 11-2 edge.
After Miller exited after five complete, Tech went to the pen in senior right-hander Graham Ahlrich. The Madison, Mississippi, native tossed an inning of work, allowing just one hit, and striking out one , in a scoreless sixth.
The Monarchs got to ensuing reliever Casey Sullivan in the seventh, as the right-hander allowed four runs (three earned) on two hits, while walking two. Tech committed a pair of errors in the frame, as Braxton Smith and Kyle Griffen combined to limit the damage at four.
Old Dominion tacked on runs in both the eighth and ninth, but were unable to complete the miracle comeback, as Griffen induced a double-play ground ball, with the tying run at the plate, to end the game.
With its 37th win tonight, the Bulldogs have surpassed last year’s win total of 36. Head coach Lane Burroughs has now won 73 games in his first two seasons in Ruston (most by any Tech coach in his first two years with the program).
The Bulldogs and Monarchs return for the final game of the regular season tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m. Left-hander Logan Bailey (8-1, 2.01 ERA) is set to make the start for Tech, while Old Dominion will counter with RHP Morgan Maguire (4-6, 3.72 ERA).