April 26, 2014
RUSTON, La. - Louisiana Tech came away with a series victory after a double steal in the eighth inning broke up a tied game and sealed a 3-1 win over Alabama A&M Saturday afternoon at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park.
LA Tech (12-27) led 1-0 over Alabama A&M (17-27) after seven full innings of baseball, but the visiting Bulldogs plated one run in the top of the eighth to knot the game at 1-1 with an inning and a half left to play. Tech responded by scoring two runs in the bottom half of the eighth, including the game-winning run, which was a result of a double steal with runners on first and third. The Diamond 'Dogs added an insurance run on an RBI double by Tyler Qualls later that inning before Phil Maton closed out the game for Tech on the mound.
"I thought both Braden Bristo and Phil Maton pitched well enough today to deserve the win," head coach Wade Simoneaux said. "Both of those guys pitched outstanding and it was a sound defensive game. They tied it in the eighth, and for a change, we answered when they fell for the first and third play. That was a big run and Qualls put them away with a double later in the inning.
"Alabama A&M is a good ball club that swept the No. 1 team in their conference recently, and we are not taking them lightly. We have to come out tomorrow and try to go for the sweep, but it is all about momentum now."
Maton (3-6) earned the win after coming on in relief for Bristo in the fifth inning. Maton gave up one run on four hits, while striking out four in 4.2 innings of work. Bristo started for the Bulldogs and did not allow a run for Alabama A&M, while giving up three hits in 3.1 innings pitching. Bristo struck out two and walked three in the outing. With four strikeouts, Maton moves into sole possession of ninth place all-time for career strikeouts in program history.
Manny Lora (1-4) was charged with the loss for Alabama A&M after coming on in the bottom of the eighth and surrendering two runs on one hit and two walks. Ryan Ahrens started for AAMU and pitched six full innings, giving up one run on five hits and striking out four. Taylor Knight also saw time on the mound for Alabama A&M, as the right-hander pitched a scoreless seventh inning with one strikeout.
Alabama A&M were tamed until the Bulldogs responded in the eighth after Julio Nunez led off the inning with a double and later scored on an RBI single by Andrew Utterback to make it a 1-1 ball game.
AAMU brought in Lora to start the bottom of the eighth to face Bre'shon Kimbell, who drew a lead-off walk. Kimbell reached second on a sacrifice bunt by Thomas Simoneaux and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Tyler Ervine followed up with a four-pitch walk to give Tech runners on the corners with one out, but it was a double steal by Kimbell and Ervine that gave the Bulldogs a 2-1 advantage with one inning left to play. Qualls added to Tech's lead with a double to right field in the next at bat to plate Ervine and make it a 3-1 lead for LA Tech after eight innings on the diamond.
Maton made quick work of the Alabama A&M Bulldogs in the top of the ninth to clinch the first series victory of the season for Louisiana Tech. LA Tech will go for the series sweep at 1 p.m. on Sunday at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park.
Senior Richie Navari is set to start on the mound for Louisiana Tech, while Alabama A&M will counter with right-hander Devin Smith.
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