RUSTON, La. – The Louisiana Tech baseball team dropped a 4-3 decision to the visiting Troy Trojans on Saturday afternoon in game one of a three-game weekend series from J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park.
Despite outhitting the Trojans (3-2), 11-6 in the contest, the Bulldogs (4-1) were unable to come up with timely base knocks to tie the game or stake a late lead.
Troy got to starter Tyler Follis (1-1) early in the first inning, as the first three baserunners reached (single, single, walk). Then with nobody out, controversy ensued as the home plate umpire claimed that Troy Dh Tanner Jackson was grazed by a pitch, forcing in the first run of the game. Head coach Lane Burroughs disputed the call, but to no avail, as Troy took a 1-0 lead.
Still with the bases loaded and nobody out, Follis buckled down, allowing another run on a sac fly, but extinguishing the fire with a strikeout and fly ball to end the inning. From that point on, Follis was nearly unhittable as the junior retired the next 12 Trojan batters he faced.
LA Tech cut Troy’s lead in half in the bottom half of the third by a leadoff double by Steele Netterville, who later came home to score on an RBI single by Chris Clayton to make it a 2-1 ballgame.
Netterville knotted the game at 2-2 the very next inning when his RBI double brought home Mason Robinson, who singled earlier in the frame.
Troy once again took the lead over the Bulldogs in the fifth after a leadoff double led to a 3-2 advantage for the Trojans, but LA Tech wasted no time striking back. In the bottom of the inning, Hunter Wells led off with a single in the right-center gap and reached third on a single by Taylor Young to give LA Tech runners on the corners with no outs. The Bulldogs eventually loaded the bases after Tanner Huddleston walked to bring up Shelton Wallace, whose sacrifice fly to right field brought home Wells to make it a 3-3 game.
The score remained that way until the top of the seventh when Logan Cerny sent the second pitch he saw to dead centerfield and over the wall for a solo home run that gave Troy a 4-3 lead.
Braxton Smith came on in relief of Follis in the seventh and got through the final out of the frame, while working a scoreless eighth as well. Jonathan Fincher came on in the ninth and worked around a one-out triple from Cerny, keeping the centerfielder 90 feet away, while striking out Garofalo and getting a fly out to left from Early, keeping Tech within a run.
The Bulldogs had a chance to tie in the bottom of the ninth after Chris Clayton led off with an infield single off the leg of the relief pitcher Cory Gill, and then moved up to second after a wild pitch. However, Gill got Hunter Wells to fly out and struck out Taylor Young for the first two outs of the frame. Tech centerfielder Parker Bates was then intentionally walked, bringing up Tanner Huddleston who struck out swinging to end the game.
The Bulldogs left 10 runners on base in the contest, while Troy left just five.
Troy starter Levi Thomas (1-0) picked up his first win of the season, tossing 6.0 innings, while allowing three runs (all earned) on nine hits. The right-hander struck out four and walked one. Gill picked up the save, his first of the season.
Follis was on hook for the loss, his first of the season. The right-hander made it two outs into the seventh inning, allowing four runs (all earned) on juts four hits. He struck out two and walked two.
The Bulldogs and Trojans resume the three-game series at 11 a.m. Sunday morning, and will round out the set with game three 40 minutes after the conclusion of game two.