LA Tech gets nothing extra, drops Top 21 showdown

DUGOUT BOUND: Bulldogs starting pitcher Greg Martinez is greeted by teammates as he heads to the dugout Tuesday evening.

By T. SCOTT BOATRIGHT, Journal Sports

RUSTON — No. 21-ranked Louisiana Tech stranded 13 baserunners and got no extra base hits Tuesday night in a 7-4 loss to No. 17 Dallas Baptist at Pat Patterson Park in J.C. Love Field.

The Bulldogs, 18-8, lost for only the third time at home this season. Tech scored in only two innings and got nine hits — but all singles. DBU, 17-8, had 12 hits, including three doubles.

“The wind was swirling and blowing in — there was no money in the outfield,” Tech head coach Lane Burroughs said. “I thought we crushed some balls. Steele (Netterville) got on one that could have been a two- or three-run homer. I thought (Walker) Burchfield hit one that would have been off the housing (beyond left center) out there, but it wasn’t happening tonight.”

Miscues didn’t help the Bulldogs. The Patriots’ first run came off a passed ball in the top of the third inning. DBU added two runs in the top of fourth after leading off with four straight hits; this time a wild pitch allowed the second run of the inning to score and increased the lead to 3-0.

Things tightened in Tech’s half of the fifth. Wade Elliott singled, reached second on a passed ball and scored on Cole McConnell’s single. Phillip Matulia’s base hit scored Netterville, who had singled, to cut the Patriots’ lead to 3-2.

But a wild pitch and a throwing error by the Bulldogs in the top of the sixth helped DBU push across two runs and push the Patriots’ lead back to three at 5-2.

The Bulldogs battled back in the bottom half of the sixth with a two-RBI single by McConnell to make it a one-run game again at 5-4.

Again, Tech couldn’t get a shutdown inning. DBU countered with single runs in both the seventh and eighth innings for more than enough late-game insurance on a tough night for the Bulldogs.

“Too many balls at the backstop,” Burroughs said. “Two leadoff walks and both those runs scored. Those are things we haven’t been doing. We’ve been winning the freebie wars but did not tonight. We played a really good ballclub, and when you do that you can’t make errors, can’t make those mistakes. … Mental lapses — those things can’t happen.”

McConnell was 2-for-5 with three RBIs to lead the Bulldogs; Matulia went 2-for-3 and Adarius Myers came off the bench to collect a pair of hits.

Tech starting pitcher Greg Martinez, 2-1, took the loss.

“We’ll regroup, put this behind us, head to (Southern Miss) this weekend and get back on track,” Burroughs said.

Game One of that three-game Conference USA series is set for 6 p.m. Friday in Hattiesburg.

The Patriots are currently No. 1 nationally in the all-important Relative Power Index (RPI). Tech is tops in the state at 36 (LSU is at 41, ULL at 54) and second in the conference to Southern Miss (30).

Photo by GRACIE KIMBRELL, Louisiana Tech