May 17, 2014
HOUSTON - Behind a stellar pitching performance by senior Richie Navari, Louisiana Tech held off the No. 14 Rice Owls for 10 and a half innings on Sunday, but a single to left field in the bottom of the 11th ultimately gave Rice a 4-3 victory over the Bulldogs in the 2014 season finale.
With a runner on second and the game tied 3-3, Leon Byrd singled to left field in the bottom of the 11th to plate the winning run and seal the series sweep for Rice with a 4-3 victory on Senior Day.
LA Tech's (15-35, 5-25 C-USA) Navari started and pitched a career-long 9.1 innings, while holding Rice (37-17, 23-7 C-USA) to three runs on seven hits before leaving the mound to a standing ovation by both Bulldog and Owl fans with one out in the 10th inning.
"Our guys showed a lot of heart today, this weekend and the whole season, and I love them for that," head coach Wade Simoneaux said. "Richie Navari pitched absolutely lights out for us today. I am really proud of our players and they fought to get a win today, but Rice got it done in the 11th to get the victory."
Sophomore right-hander Adam Derouen (0-5) was charged with the loss for the Bulldogs after coming on in relief of Navari in the 10th inning. Derouen pitch one inning and gave up one run on two hits to the six batters he faced on the day.
Matt Ditman (4-5) earned the win Rice after pitching the final four innings and holding LA Tech scoreless on four base hits. Ditman walked one and struck out three after coming on in relief of Zech Lemond in the eighth. Jon Duplantier started for the Owls and allowed two runs on six hits in 4.2 innings of work, before Trevor Teykl came in and gave up one run on a hit in 1.1 innings on the mound. Lemond pitched just one inning for Rice and gave up one hit.
Rice's Michael Aquino put the Owls on top early in the second inning with a solo home run that cleared the left field wall for a 1-0 lead over the Bulldogs.
LA Tech answered back in the third when Stephen Gandy, Colby Johnson and Ryan Jones each singled to load the bases for Taylor Love, who roped a two-run single up the middle to put the Bulldogs ahead 2-1.
In the fifth, Ford Stainback reached base on a bunt single and advanced to third on a base knock by Leon Byrd. Keenan Cook followed up with a ground ball to second base to plate Stainback and knot the game at 2-2.
The Bulldogs once again responded in the sixth when Tyler Qualls led off the inning with a walk and reached second base on a single to right field by Tyler Ervine. A sacrifice bunt by Thomas Simoneaux advanced both runners, before Stephen Gandy's ground ball to shortstop scored Qualls from third and gave LA Tech a 3-2 lead over the Owls.
Rice once again tied it up in the seventh thanks to an RBI single up the middle by Stainback to make the score 3-3 after seven innings of play.
The score remained knotted at 3-3 until the bottom of the 11th when Rice's Connor Teykl led off the inning with a single and reached second on a sacrifice bunt by Stainback. John Williamson, who came in as a pinch runner for Teykl, scored on the next play as Leon Byrd singled to left field to plate the game-winning run to give the Owls a 4-3 victory.
Love led the Bulldogs at the plate with a 3-for-4 performance with two RBI and a walk, while Simoneaux, Jones and Gandy each had two hits apiece for LA Tech. Ervine was also 1-for-2 with three walks on the day.
In addition to knocking home the game-winning run, Byrd was 3-for-4 at the plate with an RBI for the Owls. Stainback had an RBI to go along with two hits for Rice, while Aquino, Shane Hoelscher, Kirby Taylor and Teykl each had one hit on the afternoon.
Despite the loss, the Bulldogs out-hit No. 14 Rice, 12 to nine, but LA Tech left 11 runners on bases compared to nine stranded by the Owls. Today's contest marks the seventh extra inning game LA Tech has played this season, as the Bulldogs are now 3-4 in games that stretch beyond nine innings.
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