BILOXI, Miss. – Facing a three-run deficit, Louisiana Tech mounted a late rally, scoring two in the seventh and one in the ninth to tie the game, but fell in 12 innings, 6-4, to Marshall in the opening round of the Conference USA Baseball Tournament from MGM Park.
The game took 4:49 to complete, making it the longest game in Conference USA Tournament history. In the double elimination bracket, the Bulldogs will face the loser of the (2) Southern Miss and (7) Rice contest in an elimination game set for 9:00 AM on Thursday morning.
LA Tech (34-23) saw solid relief appearances from five relievers after starter Matt Miller made it through just 1.1 innings, but a season-high five errors allowed four unearned runs to score, including two costly unearned runs in the top of the 12th inning, breaking a 4-4 deadlock.
Of the five relievers, junior right-hander Tyler Follis and senior closer Braxton Smith combined for 8.0 innings. Follis went four innings, allowing four hits (all singles) but did not allow a run, while striking out four and did not walk a batter.
Meanwhile, Smith (1-4) entered the game with Tech facing a one-run deficit in the ninth and tossed the final four innings, allowing just three hits and two unearned runs after a crucial error extended the final inning. Smith struck out three and walked one.
Facing a 4-1 deficit after six complete, the Bulldogs again saw stagnant offense against Marshall starter Joshua Shapiro. However, in the bottom of the seventh, Tech senior right fielder Mason Robinson lined a two-out double down the left field line, scoring Manny Garcia all the way from first, cutting the Marshall lead down to 4-2, and chasing Shapiro.
Marshall went to the pen in closer Michael Guerrero, who proceeded to throw two wild pitches, allowing Robinson to advance to third and score, drawing Tech to within one at 4-3.
Tech was held off the board in the eighth before taking advantage of some wildness from Guerrero in the bottom of the ninth. Trailing 4-3, Tech third baseman Tanner Huddleston reached via an HBP and then moved to second after a successful sac bunt from pinch hitter Seth White. Marshall then pitched around Parker Bates, putting him on after four pitches before Garcia lined out softly to second for out number two.
Now down to its last out, Tech saw two crucial walks from Robinson (eight pitches) and Clayton (six pitches) forcing the tying run to score.
The Tech offense had chances in both the 10th and 11th innings, but failed to capitalize on the leadoff man reaching in both frames.
In the 11th and the winning run at second base, Taylor Young laced a ball back up the middle, but was robbed on a spectacular dive, stop and throw from Marshall shortstop Elvis Peralta, preserving the tie game.
The Herd plated two unearned runs in the top of the 12th via a Shane Hanon two-RBI single back up the middle after the fifth Tech error of the day allowed the inning to continue.