By: Tyler Hotz (Louisiana Tech Athletics)
RUSTON, La (Louisiana Tech Athletics) – A string of seven unanswered runs from the top of the fifth to the top of the eighth helped Old Dominion pull away from the Bulldogs late as LA Tech dropped the opener of the series 10-8 on Thursday night at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park.
After jumping ahead 7-3 behind a four-run fourth frame, the Bulldogs allowed four runs to Old Dominion (37-14) in the top of the fifth to even the score at 7-7. The two teams traded zeroes in the sixth and seventh before three runs in the top of the eighth put ODU in the lead for good. An RBI single from Thomas Wheeler broke the deadlock before a sacrifice fly and an RBI single later in the frame stretched ODU’s lead to 10-7.
LA Tech (36-15) trimmed Old Dominion’s lead to 10-8 in the bottom of the eighth behind designated hitter Steele Netterville’s RBI single. Netterville’s infield base hit scored centerfielder Parker Bates and put a pair of runners on with two outs in the inning. ODU pitcher Jason Hartline was able to end the Bulldog threat, however, when he induced a groundout to the first baseman.
In the bottom of the ninth, two of the first three Bulldogs reached to put pressure on ODU closer Noah Dean. Catcher Jorge Corona reached via an HBP before leadoff batter Taylor Young battled back from a 1-2 count to work a one-out walk. With runners on first and second, Dean was able to retire the next two batters to end the ballgame, picking up his eighth save of the season. The Bulldogs left 13 runners on base in Thursday night’s game.
Third baseman Hunter Wells, who finished the night 3-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored, put the Bulldogs on the board first with an RBI single to left field in the opening frame. A wild pitch and then a sacrifice fly from Manny Garcia helped drive in Tech’s second and third runs of the first inning.
After ODU tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the fourth, the Bulldogs erupted for a four-spot in the bottom of the fourth. After a ground-ball double play helped the Bulldogs take a 4-3 lead, Wells once registered an RBI single to extend Tech’s advantage to 5-3. An RBI single from Garcia and a bases-loaded walk from Netterville made it 7-3 after four.
Seven of nine Bulldogs in the starting lineup tallied a base hit, including Wells and Bates each posting multi-hit performances. Bates also notched a pair of walks and a team-high three runs scored on the night.
Both teams reached double-digit hit totals and had at least six pitchers throw in the 4 hour, 16 minute contest.
RUSTON, La (Louisiana Tech Athletics) – For the second straight night, No. 20 Old Dominion used a late offensive surge to knock off LA Tech 8-7 at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park on Friday evening.
In front of a crowd of 1,673 fans, Louisiana Tech (36-16) tallied four runs in the bottom of the seventh to pull ahead of the Monarchs 7-4. The Bulldogs faced a 4-3 deficit entering their team at-bat in the inning after a passed ball allowed catcher Brock Gagliardi to score from third in the top half, breaking a 3-3 tie.
Right-handed reliever Landon Tomkins entered Friday night’s ballgame in a tough position with a pair of Monarchs in scoring position and nobody out in the inning. Following the passed ball, Tomkins struck out three straight ODU batters to limit the Monarchs’ damage in the frame.
Tomkins’ surge out of the bullpen carried over into the bottom half as three straight Bulldogs reached base with one down in the inning, loading the bases for first baseman Manny Garcia. Garcia smacked a high chopper over the third baseman on the first pitch he saw to put the Bulldogs back in front at 5-4. Garcia’s two-RBI single marked RBIs No. 47 and 48 on the season for Tech’s first baseman.
Designated hitter Steele Netterville delivered a two-out RBI single up the middle to extend LA Tech’s lead to 7-4. A wild pitch from ODU reliever Brad Dobzanski then allowed Garcia to score from third to complete the Bulldog four-spot in the seventh.
Old Dominion (38-14) answered LA Tech’s scoring run with four runs of its own in the top of the eighth, plating its runs behind a a two-RBI double, RBI groundout and wild pitch. Reliever Trey Fisher recorded a hitless eighth before left-hander Jason Hartline nailed down his second save of the season in the bottom of the ninth.
The Bulldogs brought the winning run to the plate in the inning after centerfielder Parker Bates led off the frame with a single through the right side. Hartline, however, ended the ballgame just two batters later when he gloved a screaming line drive off the bat of Bulldog left fielder Cole McConnell before flipping over to first base to complete the game-ending double play.
After giving up a run in the first inning, LA Tech left-hander Cade Gibson dominated the Monarchs over the next five frames, facing the minimum over the next five innings. Gibson allowed just one hit, which was erased by a 6-4-3 double play in the fifth, during the lockdown string of innings. He also finished his final regular season start with a career-high seven strikeouts.
“He pitched really well, and we were going to let him roll tonight,” head coach Lane Burroughs said. “I thought they weren’t taking very many good swings off of him, and his breaking ball was really good.
“He’s pitched well over his past two starts.”
Right fielder Philip Matulia got the Bulldogs on the board in the fifth with a two-out, two-run double into the gap in right center, giving LA Tech its first lead of the game at 2-1. Bates then extended the home team’s lead to 3-1 in the fifth with a sacrifice fly to right field, marking his 50th RBI of the 2021 season.
Third baseman Hunter Wells remained red hot at the plate, logging his fourth straight multi-hit game in Friday night’s defeat. Wells posted his second straight 3-for-5 performance, moving him just 10 hits shy of LA Tech’s all-time career hits record. The Katy, Texas native needs just 10 more base hits to reach 270, which would surpass current Bulldog record holder T.J. Soto at 269 career hits.
The Bulldogs will now set their sights on the Conference USA Tournament, which will be held at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park for the first time in program history. LA Tech, the No. 2 seed, will open the tournament on Wednesday at 4 p.m. against No. 7 seed UTSA.