Tech Takes Series Opener over HBU, 5-3
March 9, 2018
RUSTON, La. – The Louisiana Tech baseball team rallied back from a pair of deficits, and put up two-run sixth and seventh innings, to take the first of three contests against Houston Baptist, 5-3, Friday evening from J.C. Love Field.
“We left some guys on base again tonight, but we absolutely crushed some balls right at guys with runners on,” head coach Lane Burroughs said. “I couldn’t be more proud of our hitters. I liked our plan and the way we approached their arm – he’s a bulldog. He’s got good stuff and competes his tail off. I thought we swung the bat as well tonight as we have all year. I know we don’t have the runs to show for it, but we had some great swings hit right at guys tonight – but that’s baseball. I keep telling them that is they take good approaches and keep hitting the ball hard, good things will happen, and that showed in the seventh.”
Tech (10-5) starting pitcher and reigning Conference USA Pitcher of the Week, Matt Miller (2-0) picked up his second win of the season, tossing seven innings, while allowing just one earned run. Miller, who was not his normal sharp self, battled through some control issues, but gave up just one walk, and scattered five hits.
“They got some good swings off him (Miller), but he still competed,” Burroughs noted. “I thought the command came and went, but he battled and proved that he’s Friday-night worthy. Those were two really good pitchers going at it. That was a Friday night baseball game and it was fun to watch both those pitchers going at each other.”
HBU (5-9) starter Zach Carter (0-2), battled Miller pitch for pitch, making it through six innings and giving up two earned runs on eight hits in the no decision.
Tech reliever Braxton Smith picked up his first save in the Red and Blue as the right-hander entered the game in the eighth inning and notched the six-out save. Smith gave up four hits, but did not allow a run, while striking out four. For the season, Smith has now struck out 20 batters (third-most among the Tech pitching staff) and has still not allowed an earned run in 12.1 innings across six relief appearances.
HBU led off the game with some aggressive approaches against Miller from the very start. The Huskies’ leadoff man, Anthony Jones singled on the very first pitch of the game, and then moved 90 feet away, after swiping both second and third. With one out, HBU got on the board, courtesy of an RBI single from first baseman Jake Pulcheon. Down 1-0 early, Miller buckled down, and got a groundout to second, stranding two runners and ending the threat.
Tech would answer in the bottom of the second as Logan Bailey launched his second home run of the season, a no-doubter he pulled down the right field line and into the pine trees, evening the score at one.
Both pitchers made it through the third and fourth innings, but in different ways. Carter got crucial outs with Bulldogs on base (three LOB in the third, and two LOB in the fourth), while Miller did not allow a single baserunner in either frame.
However, in the fifth, HBU took a 3-1 lead after an error with two outs by Tech shortstop Dalton Skelton, put runners on the corners. The next batter, Depreta-John, singled, breaking the tie. Spencer Halloran then hit a sharp grounder to short, that Skelton had to dive to keep in the infield, but took enough time, for Jones to score – the second unearned run of the inning for Miller.
Facing a 3-1 deficit, the Tech offense started getting key hits with runners in scoring position. Centerfielder Parker Bates led the inning off with a double down into the right field corner, and then following a four-pitch walk from Taylor Young, Mason Robinson came through with a clutch RBI single into right centerfield, scoring Bates. Robinson, who had rounded first, looking to take second, was caught in a rundown, but stayed alive enough for Young to make an attempt to advance to third. Carters’ throw to third bounded away, and allowed Young to score, tying the game at three.
Carter would escape the inning, but in the bottom of the seventh, Tech got to the Huskies’ bullpen, and new reliever, Hunter McClellan. Tech quickly loaded the bases with one out, following a Tanner Huddleston single and a pair of HBPs by Chris Clayton and Parker Bates. With the bags full, Logan Bailey drove a single into right field, scoring Huddleston, and breaking the 3-3 tie. Tech would later tack on another after a deep sacrifice fly into center for Taylor Young, scored Clayton.
“It was a physical game,” Burroughs added. “There were a lot of collisions out there. Both teams were playing hard, and it was fun to watch. It was good to see us come out on top.”
Parker Bates (2-for-4), Logan Bailey (2-for-4, 2 RBI), and Hunter Wells (2-for-5) each finished the night with multiple base knocks. Tanner Huddleston extended his team-leading reached-base streak to 12 consecutive games, while Skelton continued his streak of 11 contests. Skelton now owns the team’s longest hitting streak, while Clayton and Huddleston have each hit safely in six straight.
Tech and HBU will meet up tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m. (weather pending). Logan Robbins (2-0, 1.76 ERA) is slated to start for the Bulldogs, while the Huskies will likely counter with fellow LHP Matthew McCollough (0-0, 5.19 ERA). The contest can be heard on SportsTalk 97.7 FM with Dave Nitz back on the call. Be sure to stay tuned to LATechSports.com and follow @LATechBSB for all updates regarding possible weather delays/postponements.
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