RUSTON, La. – The Louisiana Tech baseball team took an 11-4 win in game one, but fell, 7-5 in game two of a Sunday doubleheader, closing out the three game weekend series versus the Troy Trojans from J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park.
The Bulldogs dropped to 5-2 on the young season after the Sunday split gave the Trojans (4-3) the weekend series, two games to one, in the inaugural meetings between the two clubs.
“In game one, I thought we came out on a mission, but we didn’t play particularly well in game two today,” head coach Lane Burroughs said. “I loved our energy and the way we came after them in the first game. Then I thought there was a lull in game two where it looked like we got bored with it. In order to be elite and be one of the best teams in the country, which is where we want to be, you’ve got to bring every single time out. We knew it was going to be a long day, but credit to them. Troy has a good program. There were some bright spots out there today. Big picture, I think we have a chance to be a really good club. I love our guys and how hard the play. It’s still early and I believe that when the dust settles this season, we’ll be right where we want to be.”
Game One Recap
In game one, the Bulldogs slugged their way to an 11-4 triumph on the strength of four home runs (all of which went for two-RBI).
Tech raced quickly out of the gates in the bottom of the first, tagging Troy starter Grant Stewart (0-1) for five runs (all earned) on five hits. Hunter Wells and Taylor Young led off the game with back-to-back singles. Mason Mallard then walked, loading the bases for cleanup man Steele Netterville. The sophomore wasted no time in lining a bases-clearing double into left center. Then, with a 3-0 lead, Mason Robinson cracked his first home run of the year – a two-run blast to left, chasing the Troy starter, Stewart.
Trailing 5-0, the Trojans pulled within two off Tech starter Logan Robbins, after putting up a three spot on three hits in the top of the second.
Neither team got on the board in the third, then Troy drew to within one in the fourth after a Sadler Goodwin RBI single scored Chase Smartt, who scored from second after a one-out double.
Following the RBI, freshman pitcher Beau Billings (1-0) entered the game for his first collegiate appearance, and got a fly out and a pop out to keep the Tech one-run lead.
The freshman made it through two more innings, allowing just one hit and striking out one across 2.1 innings pitched, while picking up the win in relief.
The Trojans would never get closer than one run the rest of the contest, as the Tech bats erupted for two in the sixth, two in the seventh and two in the eighth – all coming on the strength of two-run blasts. Taylor Young hit his first home run of the year in the sixth, scoring Graham Hackbarth, who led off the inning with a single in his first start of the year.
Then in the seventh, Shelton Wallace crushed his first home run of the season to dead center field, scoring Parker Bates, who led off the frame with a double.
Leading now, 9-4, Mason Mallard got into the action, lining a ball just over the wall the opposite way into right field, scoring Taylor Young who had previously reached on a perfectly-placed bunt single.
The Trojans were held scoreless throughout the final five innings thanks to the relief efforts of Billings and Matt Miller. Miller entered in relief of Billings in sixth with Tech still leading by just one run. The senior captain proceeded to toss the final 3.1 innings, allowing just two hits while striking out seven and walking none, picking up his first save of 2019 in the process.
Five Bulldogs finished with double-digit base knocks in the opening leg of the doubleheader (Taylor Young, 3-for-5, 2 RBI – Mason Mallard, 3-for-4, 2 RBI – Shelton Wallace, 2-for-3, 2 RBI – Mason Robinson, 2-for-5, 2 RBI – Graham Hackbarth, 2-for-4).
Game Two Recap
In the second leg of the Sunday twin bill, Troy took an early 1-0 lead that it never relinquished, en route to a 7-5 triumph.
The Trojans got to starter Logan Bailey (0-1) who made it through 4.1 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on 10 hits. The southpaw tied his career high with eight strikeouts, but was only able to hold Troy scoreless in one inning.
Troy scored two in the third, one in the fourth and one in the fifth to take an early 5-1 lead in the contest. However, the Tech offense battled back courtesy of a two-RBI single from Mason Mallard in the bottom of the fifth to crawl back to within two.
Troy would get a run back in the top of the sixth before Steele Netterville once again cut the deficit back down to two after a solo home run to left field made the score 6-4, Troy.
Both teams were held scoreless in the seventh before Drew Frederic homered off Tech reliever Braxton Smith in the top of the eighth – a solo shot increasing the lead back to three at 7-4.
However, Netterville again got the Bulldogs to within two after his second home run of the game and season – another solo shot to left field.
Trailing 7-5, heading into the bottom of the ninth, after an electric Smith shut down Troy in the top half, the Bulldogs quickly threatened after Hunter Wells was hit by a pitch to lead things off. Two outs later, Parker Bates lined a single into right, placing runners at the corners for Steele Netterville representing the tying run at the plate. However, Troy closer, Cory Gill got Netterville to fly out to shallow left field, preserving the win and his second save of 2019.
Tech starter Bailey was saddled with the loss, his first of 2019, while Troy reliever Rush Hixon picked up the win, tossing two innings of scoreless relief.
The Bulldogs return to action on Tuesday, February 26, hitting the road to take on Little Rock in a Tuesday midweek tilt set for 4 p.m