Contributed by: LA Tech Athletic Communications
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – The Louisiana Tech baseball team utilized a pair of big home runs from newcomers Philip Matulia and Blake Johnson, to stake a 10-5 Sunday Conference USA triumph over Middle Tennessee in the final game of the weekend series at Reese Smith Jr. Field.
LA Tech (14-9, 2-4) won its sixth consecutive C-USA road series dating back to last year (5-0 in road league series in 2018) behind a strong combined offensive output. The Bulldogs outhit Middle Tennessee (9-14, 3-3) 15-7 in the weekend finale.
“I thought after the first three innings, we really loosened up,” head coach Lane Burroughs said. “We got the first run on the board in the fourth and I thought we loosened up after that. I thought Bailey was really good once he settled in. We got some guys on base and started moving them around and really started playing our brand of baseball, which ultimately led to us winning this series. This was a difficult series to win. Our guys competed and hung in there. I’m proud of them for holding the rope and finding a way to win this series.”
The Blue Raiders struck for three early runs through the first three innings, each coming from solo home runs off Tech starter Logan Bailey.
Trailing 3-0, the Bulldogs notched just one hit through the first three innings off Middle Tennessee starter Zack Keenan.
However, in the fourth, Steele Netterville got the offense churning with an RBI double to left, scoring Mason Robinson from second.
After Bailey responded with his first shutout inning in the bottom of the fourth, Blake Johnson ignited the Tech offense with his first home run of the season – a towering two-run blast to left, tying the game up at three.
Bailey again held the Blue Raiders off the board in the bottom of the fifth, before Tech struck for its first lead of the day in the top of the sixth. Mason Robinson (single) and Chris Clayton (error) both reached before Tech third baseman Tanner Huddleston put the visitors out in front via an RBI single to left. With a 4-3 lead, freshman Philip Matulia followed the script of fellow newcomer Blake Johnson, and crushed his first home run of the year – a no-doubt three-run shot into the trees in left, extending the Tech lead to 7-3.
In the bottom of the inning, Middle Tennessee would get back to within two after a two run home run from Myles Christian off Tech reliever, Jonathan Fincher. However, the left-hander recovered and retired the side, while tossing a scoreless seventh, keeping the Bulldog lead at two.
The Bulldogs would tack on three more (one in the eighth and two in the ninth) to extend the lead to 10-5.
Senior reliever Braxton Smith pitched the final two innings for the Bulldogs, while picking up his third save of 2019. Smith did not allow a baserunner and struck out one.
Bailey (2-3) picked up his second win of the year, tossing five complete innings, while allowing four runs (all earned) on six hits. The left-hander struck out five and walked just one of his 21 batters faced.
Taylor Young (3-for-4) and Mason Robinson (3-for-5) paced the Tech offense each with three hits. While Matulia, Huddleston and Johnson combined for eight of Tech’s 10 RBI.
The Bulldogs return home to open up a nine-game homestand beginning this Tuesday, hosting ULM at 6 p.m. from J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park.