RUSTON – Bayli Simon and Morgan Turkoly recorded clutch run-scoring hits in the seventh inning as Louisiana Tech plated three runs in its final frame to record a 3-2 come-from-behind win over UTSA Sunday, completing the three-game sweep against the Roadrunners.
With the win, Tech (27-17, 13-5 C-USA) extended its winning streak to 11 games – including nine straight in league play – and sits in first place in the Conference USA standings. Tech will host second place UAB this coming weekend in a huge three-game series that will have huge implications on the regular season title.
“This was another tremendous weekend,” said Tech head coach Mark Montgomery. “The girls are really playing well in all three facets of the game. We are playing good defense and pitching well. Offensively we have really started to come on over the last few weeks. Any time all three facets are working at a high level it gives you a great chance to win.”
On an afternoon that saw the wind consistently blow straight in between 20-25 miles per hour, what would normally be long fly balls that could leave the park turned into outs.
Tech pitcher Preslee Gallaway and UTSA starter Madison Nelson both pitched out of first inning bases-loaded jams as the game was scoreless through four innings of action.
However, UTSA finally took a lead in the top of the fifth inning when the Roadrunners plated two runs on three hits and one Tech error. Besides the first inning, it was the only frame that UTSA really threatened Gallaway, who picked up her 14th win of the season – her second of the series.
“Preslee has done a fantastic job throughout the year, but what we are starting to see is the maturation process of her becoming a complete pitcher,” said Montgomery. “She can now throw a couple of games in a weekend series or come on in relief in a save situation. I couldn’t be more proud of her.”
Gallaway (14-6) allowed just two runs on five hits and four walks – one intentional – while recording six strikeouts. It came less than 24 hours after the Pilot Point, Texas, native tied her career-high of 12 strikeouts in a 4-0 win over UTSA.
Trailing 2-0 entering the bottom of the seventh inning, Tech rallied. Senior second baseman Karlee Jensen started the rally with a line drive down the left field line for a double followed by an Ali Galaz walk. Marilyn Rizzato then lay down a sacrifice bunt to move the tying runs into scoring position with one out.
Simon then lined the first pitch she saw over USTA leftfielder Celeste Loughman’s head, plating both Jensen and Galaz and tying the game at 2-2.
“We told them earlier in the game that we had to quit lifting the ball,” said Montgomery. “It was imperative we stay on top of the ball and not worry about finishing our swings; just be good to contact and get extension. On a normal day, I think we hit a couple of home runs, but today that wind was such a factor.
“What you saw in the last inning was we hit line drives instead of getting lift on fly balls. It was an adjustment in our approach of not trying to overpower the ball but to stay connected through the swing. We also got ourselves in a couple of advantageous situations where we were able bunt for hits.”
With the game tied at 2-2 and Simon at second base, Jazlyn Crowder singled into the hole at shortstop and then Kimmie Atiezna lay down a bunt single to load the bases with one out. Turkoly then lined a 2-1 pitch by Nelson to the left centerfield gap, scoring Simon with the winning run.
Associate AD/Athletic Communications