March 15, 2008
RUSTON, La. - Louisiana Tech got strong pitching performances from Alan Knotts, Andrew Lassere and John Anderson as the Bulldogs held Tennessee-Martin to only four hits in a 6-1 victory on Saturday at J.C. Love Field. It was Tech's second win over UTM on the day as the Bulldogs finished a suspended game from Friday night, pulling out an 8-5 victory.
"It's a win," Tech coach Wade Simoneaux said. "I thought all of our guys pitched very well. We're still hitting the ball hard but right at people, and it's been that way for about five straight games now. One of these days, we'll get a break and start seeing more balls fall in for hits."
Louisiana Tech improved to 11-6 on the season, while Tennessee-Martin fell to 1-12.
Alan Knotts (2-0) got the win with five strong innings of shutout ball, allowing only three hits while striking out four. Andrew Lassere was solid in relief, giving up only one run - a solo homer to lead off the eighth inning - but allowed no other hits in three innings. John Anderson made his first appearance in a couple of weeks and tossed a perfect ninth with one punchout.
Freshman righthander Wes Patterson (0-1) took his first loss of the year, giving up six earned runs on eight hits in 5.1 innings pitched, but he struck out six Bulldogs in the effort. It was a very quick game, lasting just more than two hours.
The hits were spread out through the Tech lineup with seven different Bulldogs hitting safely in the game. Chris Kersten led the way with a 2-for-4 effort and an RBI. Nick Grunenwald and Matt Combs hit back-to-back home runs in the sixth inning, the first of the year for both players.
The Bulldogs, however, would not get another hit until the sixth inning. Another double down the line from Kersten would get a Bulldog into scoring position for the first time since the first inning. Grunenwald would follow that up with a towering home run to left, his first of the season, to make it 5-0. Four pitches later, Combs would smack his first dinger of the year, also to left, to give Tech a 6-0 lead.
UT-Martin's Drew Mason would lead off the eighth with a solo shot to center, but he would be the only Skyhawk to cross the plate in the contest.
Friday's game was delayed by severe storms and tornadoes that moved into northern Louisiana around 8:30 p.m. The game was suspended at 8:40, and resumed at 2:57 p.m. on Saturday. The conclusion of the contest took only nine minutes, and the Bulldogs emerged with an 8-5 victory.
Things didn't look good for Tech early on. Four scoreless innings for both teams included the Bulldogs hitting into two double plays. UT-Martin would find its offensive groove in the fifth as Wes Patterson hit a solo homer to left to give UTM a 1-0 lead. A pair of singles, a sacrifice and another single later, and the Skyhawks had a 3-0 lead.
The Skyhawks would add another in the sixth after an two-out error led to a pair of singles, the second by Drew Mason to score Mark Hartsfield from second and give UTM a 4-0 lead.
Tech would finally get on the board in the sixth when a sacrifice fly by Drew Bunting brought in Cobb from third. After Jericho Jones was hit by a pitch, he advanced to third on a single by Albie Goulder. Jones would then score when Goulder faked a steal of second, the throw was wide of the bag and Jones took home on the play.
The `Dawgs would add another in the seventh when Cobb doubled to left, scoring Grunenwald from second to make it 4-3. But UTM would not go quietly as a Miles Hartsfield ripped a double to center, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a wild pitch from Aaron Lorio to make it 5-3.
With lighting flashing to the west from about the fifth inning on, fans, players and coaches were anxious about the approaching storm. It reached a peak when, during a pitching change in the eighth inning, UT-Martin's head coach, Bubba Cates, was ejected while trying to stall and convince the umpires to suspend play with the Skyhawks clinging to a 5-3 lead.
Adam Cobb, Tech's hottest hitter, came through with two outs and the score tied in the eighth with a triple off the left-center wall to bring in two runs and give the Bulldogs a 7-5 lead. Almost immediately thereafter, the press box got word of a tornado warning for Ruston and alerted the umpires, who then suspended play.
Play resumed at 2:58 p.m. on Saturday, some 16 hours and 18 minutes after it was suspended. And Tech wasted no time getting some insurance as Cobb stole home on the first pitch, giving the Bulldogs an 8-5 lead.
Aaron Lorio (3-1) pitched a perfect ninth with a pair of strikeouts to pick up his third win of the season.
Tech and UT-Martin will conclude their three-game series on Sunday with a single game at 1 p.m. Junior righthander Jericho Jones (3-1, 4.50) is slated to get the start for the Bulldogs against a UTM pitcher yet to be determined. GameTracker will be available through www.latechsports.com, and stadium gates open 90 minutes prior to first pitch.