RUSTON, La. (March 22, 2014) – After playing 21 innings over the course of two games, Louisiana Tech managed to win one in thrilling fashion and fall in the latter to Old Dominion, who completed the series victory Saturday afternoon at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park.
In the first game of the doubleheader, LA Tech (8-14, 3-6 C-USA) trailed Old Dominion (14-10, 4-5 C-USA), 6-4, after seven innings of play, but two runs in the eighth tied the game to set up a three-run walk-off home run by senior catcher Tyler Qualls in the bottom of the 12th inning to give the Bulldogs a 9-6 victory.
Tech took a 1-0 lead in the first inning of the second game, but that would be the last time the Bulldogs were ahead as Old Dominion added scattered four runs across four innings before delivering the final blow, a three-run home run in the top of the ninth inning to take the game, 7-2, and the series, 2-1, over Louisiana Tech.
“I am proud of the guys for the way they competed all day today even though we don’t like the result of that second game,” head coach Wade Simoneaux said. “That first game was a fun one to be a part of and we played well enough to get the win. We have to keep on fighting, but we will get there and the guys are close to turning it around.”
Game 1: LA Tech 9, Old Dominion 6 (12 innings)
For the fifth time this season, Louisiana Tech needed more than the scheduled nine innings to get a result, and in the Bulldogs’ longest game of the season, they recorded a thrilling walk-off win in the 12th inning thanks to Qualls’ three-run home run to tie the series at 1-1.
After spotting the Monarchs three runs in the top of the first, LA Tech clawed its way back into the game with a run in the fourth and three in the fifth, while Old Dominion was held scoreless until the seventh inning when Josiah Burney hit a three-run homer to give the Monarchs a 6-4 lead.
With runners on second and third and one out in the inning, pinch hitter Steven Blanchard scorched a 1-0 pitch down the right field line for a two-run double, which knotted the game at 6-6.
The score remained that way for three extra innings, but in the bottom of the 12th with Ryan Jones on second and Tyler Ervine on first, Qualls came through with the clutch three-run shot over the right-center field fence good for a 9-6 walk-off Bulldog win.
At the time, Laetten Galbraith (2-2) had been on the mound for 1.2 innings, which was good enough to earn the win for Tech after holding Old Dominion hitless in the final two innings on the mound. Adam Derouen started for the Bulldogs and allowed three runs on six hits in four innings. Jared Keating then came on in the seventh and allowed three runs on the three-run home run by Burney. Keating pitched three full innings before Eric Dunbar came on for 3.1 innings to hold the Monarchs scoreless, while giving up just two hits to set up the win for Galbraith.
Ryan Yarbrough (1-4) came on in the 12th inning for Old Dominion and gave up the three-run shot that made him responsible for the loss. The Monarchs used six pitchers in the game with Andy Roberts getting the start, pitching 4.1 innings and giving up three runs on three hits to go along with four walks and two strikeouts. Victor Diaz and Brad Gero combined to give up three runs for the Monarchs’ pitching staff.
Qualls, who came on in the sixth as a pinch hitter, tied a career-high with three base knocks as he was a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate with a home run, three RBI and two runs scored. Qualls also reached base a fourth time after being hit by a pitch. The long ball he hit in the 12th was the fourth career home run of his Bulldog career.
Earlier in the game, Tech took advantage of an Old Dominion error by scoring one in the fourth, while three runs in the bottom of the fifth set up Blanchard’s game-tying hit in the eighth. The three runs in the fifth came from a sacrifice fly by Colby Johnson and a two-RBI single to left field by Jones.
In addition to Qualls’ phenomenal day at the dish, Jones put together a 3-for-6 performance with two RBI and a run, while Gandy had two hits on the day as well. Blanchard was 1-for-1 with a double and two RBI.
Game 2: Old Dominion 7, LA Tech 2
Despite score one run in the first inning of Game 2, Louisiana Tech’s bats went silent for the next four innings, while Old Dominion took advantage and built a 4-1 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh, Johnson and Gandy each singled to give Tech two runners on with no outs. Two fly balls by Qualls and Ervine gave ODU two quick outs, but Jones followed up with an RBI single to left to score Johnson and make it a two-run deficit. In that same inning, the Bulldogs had their chance to possibly tie the game or take the lead with the bases loaded, but a strikeout left three runners stranded and kept the score at 4-2 in favor of the Monarchs.
Tech also had its chances in the eighth with runners on second and third with one out, but ODU relief pitcher Brett Harris struck out two Bulldogs in a row to end the threat.
It was a three-run home run in the top of the ninth that put the nail in the coffin for Louisiana Tech as Burney left the park for the second time that day to extend Old Dominion’s lead to five runs and make it an eventual 7-2 win for the visiting Monarchs.
Richie Navari (3-1) started for Tech and was charged with the loss after giving up three runs – two earned – on seven hits in 5.1 innings on the mound. Navari struck out three and walked one before Braden Bristo came in for 1.2 innings. Bristo gave up one run on a balk in the sixth, but allowed just one hit before making way for Galbraith to make his second appearance of the day. Galbraith pitched the final two innings and gave up three runs – two earned – on one hit with a strikeout and walk.
Turner Bishop earned the win for ODU after coming on in the fifth and giving up one run on two hits in 2.1 innings. He struck out two and walked on in the outing. Greg Tomchick started for the Monarchs, while Harris and Brad Gero closed out the final three innings for Old Dominion.
Jones was 1-for-4 in the second game of the day with an RBI, while Blanchard once again came on as a pinch hitter and singled in his only at bat. Thomas Simoneaux, Gandy, Johnson and Love all had base hits in the loss, while Tech totaled seven base knocks compared to ODU’s nine. Love reached base safely in all three games this weekend, extending his reached base streak to 20 consecutive games.
The Bulldogs return to action at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 25 as the team makes the short trip down I-20 to face Grambling State on the diamond. Tech will then head to San Antonio, Texas to battle UTSA in Conference USA action.
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