April 27, 2014
RUSTON, La. - Louisiana Tech scored four runs in as many innings and held off a late rally to complete a three-game series sweep over Alabama A&M with a close 4-3 victory Sunday afternoon at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park.
LA Tech (13-27) plated two runs in the fourth and one run in both the sixth and seventh innings, but it was two unearned runs by Alabama A&M (17-28) in the top of the eighth that made it a much closer one-run ball game in Sunday's series finale.
"I thought Richie Navari had another quality outing and pitched really well before Eric Dunbar and Laetten Galbraith came on in the end," head coach Wade Simoneaux said. "We did what we had to do to get the win against Alabama A&M, who is a scrappy team that pitches well. We don't take any opponent lightly, and that is just who we are as a team. We have to fight to find ways to win games. Stephen Gandy, Tyler Qualls and Colby Johnson each had big RBI singles and Taylor Love stole home, and that was a big run to help us get the win."
Navari (5-4) had yet another impressive outing on the mound for the Bulldogs as the senior earned the win after allowing two runs - one earned - on six hits in 7.0 innings of work. The right-hander tied a season-high with seven strikeouts before making way for freshman Eric Dunbar with one runner on and no outs in the eighth. Dunbar gave up one unearned run on one hit in one inning on the mound before Laetten Galbraith (4) came on in the ninth and shut down AAMU in order for his fourth save of the season.
Devin Smith (3-6) started for Alabama A&M and was charged with the loss after give up four runs on eight hits over the course of seven innings. Smith struck out five LA Tech batters and walked just one before Derrick Winter came on to start the eighth for AAMU. Winter gave up two hits and faced five batters in one inning of relief.
Louisiana Tech started things off in the fourth after Ryan Jones led off the inning with a base hit, followed by a walk for Love to give the Bulldogs two runners on base. Gandy came through with an RBI single through the left side to score Jones and get Tech on the board with a 1-0 lead. Later in that inning with Love on third and Gandy at first base, the Bulldogs executed a double steal as Love beat the throw home from the pitcher to put Tech up 2-0 over AAMU.
Alabama A&M responded in the fifth after Dustin Dhanani led off the frame with a single up the middle. Ramon Nelson then reached first on a throwing error by Love before a wild pitch allowed both runners to advance bases. On that same play, Dhanani reached third and never slowed down, as he successfully stole home on the same play by beating the throw at the plate to make it a 2-1 LA Tech lead.
The host Bulldogs added their third run of the game in the sixth when Love led off the inning with a double to left center field. A strikeout brought Qualls to the plate, where he drilled a single to center field to score Love and give LA Tech a 3-1 advantage.
An insurance run in the seventh on an RBI single by Johnson proved to be important later in the game, as Alabama A&M attempted a comeback the next inning. Austin Hulsey led off with a double, forcing Tech to go with Dunbar out of the bullpen with one on and no outs. Andrew Utterback was hit by a pitch, but a 6-4-3 double play ball ended the threat temporarily and gave the Bulldogs two outs. Hulsey advanced to third on the ground ball and eventually scored on a ground ball by Allen Smith, which was ruled an error on Love. Smith then came around to score the third and final run of the game for AAMU on a double to left field by Jordan Friend to make it 4-3 in favor of LA Tech.
In the top of the ninth, LA Tech brought in Galbraith to close it out and the right-hander made quick work of Alabama A&M with an easy 1-2-3 inning to clinch the series sweep.
Qualls led Tech at the dish with a 3-for-4 effort, including an RBI and a stolen base in the win. Love also had a productive day offensively for the Bulldogs with a 2-for-3 performance with a double, two runs scored, a walk and a stolen base. Johnson and Gandy each had one hit on the day with RBI singles, while Jones, Thomas Simoneaux and Conner Tobias each tallied one hit apiece as well.
Friend drove in the only earned run of the game for Alabama A&M with a base hit, while Patrick Dodson reached base three times on walks. Ramon Nelson, Brandyn Crutcher, Hulsey, Utterback and Dhanani each recorded a base hit in the loss for AAMU.
The Bulldogs out-hit Alabama A&M 10 to six on the afternoon, while also totaling four stolen bases in today's game.
The Bulldogs will now make the short trip to Natchitoches, La., to face in-state foe Northwestern State at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Brown-Stroud Field.
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