RUSTON, La. – The Louisiana Tech baseball team saw a strong start from senior Logan Bailey, coupled with four RBI from junior centerfielder Parker Bates, en route to a 5-2 Sunday victory over the visiting UAB Blazers from J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park.
With the win, the Bulldogs (17-10, 5-4 C-USA) clinched the weekend sweep over the Blazers (12-17, 1-8 C-USA), marking Tech’s second consecutive league series win.
“It’s been a long climb from 0-3, but now we’re right back in the thick of things”, head coach Lane Burroughs said. “We appreciate all the people who stay behind us and cheer us on. Seasons aren’t made or destroyed in one weekend, so I’m proud of our guys for staying focused and getting us right back in the hunt. Everything we want to accomplish is still in front of us.”
Bailey (3-2) was solid in his seventh start of the season. The left-hander coasted through the first three innings, allowing just one hit over that span, and pitched through the first five innings without allowing a run.
The Bulldog offense got some early run support for their starter, tagging UAB starting pitcher, Austin Bohannon for two runs in the bottom of the first, as Parker Bates doubled into the gap in left center, scoring both Hunter Wells and Mason Mallard for the first runs of the ballgame.
Then in the third, Tech doubled its lead, again courtesy of Bates. Mallard began the scoring in the third, increasing Tech’s lead to 3-0 after an RBI single to center, followed shortly thereafter by a Bates single to right.
Trailing now 4-0, the Blazers mounted their first significant offensive threat of the afternoon in the top of the fifth, as a double, single and a walk loaded the bases with nobody out. However, Bailey calmly induced a key double play as Tech third baseman Tanner Huddleston snared a ground ball, stepped on third, and threw home as Clayton applied the tag to the sliding runner. Then with two outs, and runners at first and second, Bailey got a weak foul out to Clayton behind the plate, keeping the Blazers off the board.
Tech would add a run in the bottom of the fifth, on Bates’ fourth RBI of the day on a single to right field, again plating Mallard, who had reached via an infield single to third, then stole second base.
UAB would get on the board in the top of the sixth via a leadoff first-pitch homerun to right field from designated hitter Zack Davis.
Then in the seventh with Tech leading 5-1, UAB would add an unearned run after a Hunter Wells fielding error extended the inning, allowing a run to score on a sac fly to left from leadoff man Tyler Tolbert.
Junior southpaw Kyle Griffen entered in relief of Bailey in the top of the seventh with two outs and a runner at second, and induced a weak pop out to third, ending the threat.
Griffen would pitch another scoreless inning in the eighth, before giving way to left-hander David Leal in the top of the ninth. Leal, making his first appearance of the season, after missing the first 26 games of the season due to a broken foot, was electric in his season debut. The senior left-hander struck out two, and retired the side in order, clinching his first save of the season
“It was an incredible feeling seeing David back out there today,” said Burroughs. “I got chill bumps when I heard the reception he got from the crowd when he came in. He was calm and collected, and did what he always does – throws strikes. Hopefully, getting him and Hunter Wells healthy and back out there will get us going.”
Parker Bates led the ‘Dogs with three hits and a season-high four RBI, while Hunter Wells added three hits and scored a pair of runs. Mason Mallard concluded his strong weekend with a 2-for-3 effort at the plate with three runs scored and an RBI. Mallard, the team-leader in batting average (.394) went 7-for-12 (.583) with five runs, three RBI and three stolen bases over the weekend.
Tech’s starting pitching keyed the home weekend sweep, as the trio of Matt Miller, Logan Robbins and Logan Bailey combined for a 1.96 ERA across 18.1 innings pitched. The Blazers mustered just a .235 batting average off the three veteran starters.
The Bulldogs will continue this long homestand on Wednesday evening hosting another in-state foe in the McNeese State Cowboys. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. from J.C. Love Field.