April 12, 2014
RUSTON, La. - For the first time this season, Louisiana Tech did not touch home plate as the Panthers of FIU shut out the Bulldogs in the second game of the series, 3-0, Saturday afternoon at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park.
LA Tech (9-23, 3-14 C-USA) out-hit the Panthers 10 to four, but continued to struggle with getting a timely base hit, leaving a total of 10 base runners stranded in the game and hitting into three double plays. FIU (26-9, 10-7 C-USA) scored one run in each the first, third and ninth innings for a 3-0 lead, which was enough to win the game and the series over the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs' losing streak has now reached nine straight games.
"Our guys really played well today even though it does not show up on the scoreboard," head coach Wade Simoneaux said. "I thought we pitched extremely well and we defended as well as we can, but to have 10 hits and no runs, that is tough to swallow. We had our opportunities with base runners, but left them out there stranded. Our guys played good baseball today, but we still cannot get a clutch hit."
Cody Crouse (3-2) started for FIU and earned the win after not allowing a run, despite giving up 10 hits in 6.1 innings on the mound. Crouse struck out four and walked three before coming off with one out in the seventh in favor of Charles Cormier. Cormier, Mike Ellis and Mike Gomez combined to pitch the final 2.2 innings for FIU, holding the Bulldogs hitless in that span. Gomez (5) picked up his fifth save of the season for the Panthers.
Left-hander Jared Keating (0-3) was charged with the loss after giving up two runs on three hits in 3.1 innings. Keating struck out one batter and walked three in the outing, while also totaling four wild pitches on the day. Sophomore right-hander Adam Derouen came on in the fourth inning and was impressive in the final 5.2 innings of play, allowing one run on three hits, while striking out one and walking one batter.
FIU wasted no time getting on the board in Game 2 after Tyler Hibbert led off the game with a walk, followed by a single for Julius Gaines. Both runners advanced bases on a wild pitch by Keating to give the Panthers two runners in scoring position. FIU's Aramis Garcia put the Panthers on the board with a sacrifice fly to deep center field for a 1-0 lead over Tech.
The Bulldogs had their best chance to bite back in the bottom half of the first with a two-out rally, which began with a single to left-center field by Colby Johnson. Crouse then walked Tyler Ervine and Tyler Qualls back-to-back to load the bases, but a pop fly to the short stop ended the inning and preserved a one-run lead for FIU.
In the third, FIU's Gaines doubled to left field with one out and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Keating then threw his second consecutive wild pitch to score Gaines and make it a 2-0 advantage for the Panthers.
LA Tech had two runners thrown out at the plate in the game, once in the second and then again in the bottom of the third on an attempt at a double steal. In the second, three consecutive two-out singles by Bre'shon Kimbell, Taylor Love and Ryan Jones kept the inning alive, but Kimbell was thrown out at home on Jones' single up the middle.
FIU tacked on an insurance run in the top of the ninth when Edwin Rios singled up the middle, stole second and scored on a triple to center field by Zach Sweety to make it a 3-0 lead for the Panthers.
Love, Jones, Johnson and Kimbell each had two hits apiece on the afternoon, while Ervine and Qualls also notched base knocks in the game for a total of 10 LA Tech hits. The top five batters in the Bulldogs' lineup had eight of Tech's 10 base hits.
Gaines led the Panthers at the plate with a 2-for-4 performance and a run scored, while Garcia and Sweety drove home runs for FIU in the game.
The series finale is set to begin at 11 a.m. Sunday with right-hander Richie Navari scheduled to start for the Bulldogs on the mound. FIU will send right-hander Chris Mourelle to the bump in the final game of the series.
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