April 13, 2014
RUSTON, La. - After suffering through a nine-game winless stretch that dated back to March 25, Louisiana Tech was able to celebrate a victory with a 4-2 win over Conference USA foe FIU Sunday afternoon at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park.
LA Tech (10-23, 4-14 C-USA) was finally able to come through with timely hits in the fifth inning of Sunday's series finale, scoring three runs in the frame to help propel the Bulldogs to a much-needed victory over the Panthers from FIU (26-10, 10-8 C-USA). A solo home run by Thomas Simoneaux in the sixth gave Tech an insurance run for a 4-2 win.
With the victory this afternoon, the Bulldogs snapped a nine-game losing streak, which tied for the second longest skid in program history.
"I told the guys before the game to keep playing the way they are playing," head coach Wade Simoneaux said. "Those hits have to start falling for us eventually and they did today. I thought it was a gutsy performance by (Richie) Navari to pitch the way he did against a good hitting team like FIU. We are playing good defense, our pitching is doing outstanding and we are hitting the ball. It is just a matter of timely hitting, and we finally had some two-out hits today.
"It was fun today and the crowd was into the game the whole time. We have a loyal crowd that comes to the games and our fans stay behind these guys. We appreciate them supporting our guys, and it was fun to get a win today at home."
Navari (4-3) earned his fourth win of the season after giving up just one run on nine hits in 6.2 innings on the mound. After walking four batters in the first four innings, Navari settled down and struck out three FIU batters before being replaced in the seventh by Eric Dunbar. Dunbar came on with two outs in the seventh inning and stayed in to pitch two innings, allowing one run on three hits before coming off with two outs in the ninth.
Laetten Galbraith (2) came in to close it out in the final inning with two runners on and two outs for FIU. Galbraith picked up his second save of the season after getting Brandon Gomez to line out to second base to clinch the victory for Tech.
Chris Mourelle (6-1) was charged with his first loss of the campaign after allowing four runs - three earned - on nine hits in 5.2 innings of work. Before the Bulldogs scored three runs in the fifth inning, Mourelle had not allowed a run in 25 consecutive innings on the mound. Thomas Simoneaux's home run in the sixth was also the first long ball Mourelle had given up in 2014. FIU used a total of four pitchers on the afternoon, as Mitchell Davis and Charles Cormier combined to hold Tech hitless in two innings. Mike Ellis pitched to the final two batters, allowing one hit.
Although FIU threatened several times early on in the game, including leaving seven runners stranded in the first four innings, Navari helped keep it a scoreless ball game heading into the fifth of the third and final game of the weekend.
It was then that the Bulldog bats came alive, beginning with a single up the middle by Taylor Burch. Burch stole second and beat the throw home to put Tech on the board thanks to an RBI single by Ryan Jones. Another stolen base by Jones gave the Bulldogs a runner in scoring position with two outs in the inning, as Colby Johnson notched an RBI single of his own to plate Jones and give Tech a 2-0 lead. Johnson later scored an unearned run on a ground ball Steven Blanchard hit to second base that Edwin Rios booted to give the Bulldogs a 3-0 advantage.
Thomas Simoneaux helped stretch LA Tech's lead to four runs with a lead-off home run, the first of his career, which cleared the right field fence in the sixth inning for a 4-0 Tech lead.
FIU chipped away at Tech's four-run lead in the seventh when Tyler Hibbert led off the inning with a single up the middle and advanced to second on a balk by Navari. Hibbert took second on a single by Zach Sweety and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Aramis Garcia to make it 4-1 in favor of LA Tech.
Julius Gaines and J.C. Escarra reached base with singles in the eighth to give FIU runners on the corners and one out. Gaines went on to score on a sacrifice fly by Hibbert to cut Tech's lead to 4-2, but the Panthers' attempt at a comeback fell short when pinch runner Kolby Follis was caught stealing to end the inning. FIU once again threatened in the ninth with runners on second and third with two outs, but Galbraith came in close out the 4-2 win for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs had four hitters record multiple hits in the win with Jones and Johnson leading the way, each going 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Taylor Love was 2-for-4 with two doubles, while Burch was also 2-for-4 on the afternoon. Thomas Simoneaux was 1-for-4 with a home run and an RBI, while Blanchard was 1-for-4 with a double for a total of 10 LA Tech base hits compared to 12 hits for FIU.
Both Gaines and Sweety recorded three hits apiece for the Panthers, while Rios was 2-for-4 on the day for FIU. Hibbert and Garcia drove in the only two runs of the game for FIU.
LA Tech returns to the diamond at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 15 as the Bulldogs travel to face UALR in midweek action. Tech will then head to Hattiesburg, Miss., to take on C-USA mate Southern Miss in a three-game series beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 18.
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