RUSTON, La. – Senior centerfielder Parker Bates once again lived up to his All-American prowess, belting a go-ahead homer in the bottom of the eighth inning to help the Bulldogs record a 4-3 Friday afternoon victory over Marshall. Bates’ fifth home run of the season secured No. 14 LA Tech’s 15th win at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park in 2021.
After falling behind 3-1 in the third inning, Marshall (6-23, 2-15 C-USA) tallied a run in the seventh and in the eighth to tie Friday afternoon’s contest at 3-3. A sacrifice fly from Travis Sankovich in the seventh and a solo shot from designated hitter Cyrus Grimes in the eighth knotted the game at three apiece entering the bottom of the eighth.
Bates, who entered Friday’s game on a 21-game reached base streak, blasted the first pitch of the inning over the scoreboard in right field to tally at least one hit for the 20th time in his past 22 games. The towering solo shot marked LA Tech’s first run since the bottom of the third frame.
“I’m so proud of Parker,” head coach Lane Burroughs said. “He’s an all-time great Bulldog.
“That’s what great players do. You could hear him rallying the troops all game long. He’s a leader, he’s a captain and he’s a Bulldog man.”
With a 4-3 lead, the Bulldogs turned it over to reliever Kyle Crigger to nail down the final three outs. Crigger opened the top of the ninth with a strikeout before inducing a pair of groundouts to end the game. The right-hander needed just 13 pitches to secure his second save of the season.
LA Tech (27-9, 13-4 C-USA) fell behind early in Friday’s ballgame after the Thundering Herd turned a leadoff walk in the first into their first run of the game. Catcher Jorge Corona, who just launched his first home run of the season on Sunday, went the opposite way for a two-run shot to right center, putting the Bulldogs ahead 2-1 in the bottom of the second. Corona’s home run marked a string of four straight Diamond Dog hits with one out in the second, but Marshall starting pitcher Chad Heiner used a ground-ball double play to avoid the crooked number on the scoreboard.
In the third, left fielder Cole McConnell fouled off five pitches before lining a 3-2 pitch into right field for an RBI single. McConnell’s quality at-bat helped bring home first baseman Manny Garcia from second after Garcia kept the inning alive with a two-out double.
Starting pitcher Jonathan Fincher found his groove in the top of the third, striking out the side to move to seven punchouts through the first three frames. Fincher retired 12 straight Herd batters from the top of the second through the top of the sixth, tying his season-high and career-high with 10 strikeouts.
The Thundering Herd then loaded the bases with nobody out in the top of the seventh to chase Tech’s Friday night ace. Left-hander Kyle Griffen and right-hander Landon Tomkins helped limit the damage, evading the top of the seventh by allowing just one run. Griffen got a flyout to right field for the first out, trading a Thundering Herd run on the sacrifice fly for an out in the inning. Tomkins then entered and struck out the next two batters swinging to strand a pair of Thundering Herd baserunners.
Homers from Corona and Bates marked the 15th and 16th round-trippers the Bulldogs have tallied over their past nine games. Garcia and McConnell paced the Diamond Dogs with two-hit performances.
Fincher, Griffen, Tomkins and Crigger combined to tally 15 strikeouts, the Bulldogs’ highest total since a season-opening victory over Air Force in February.
LA Tech will continue its series against Marshall on Saturday morning at the Love Shack. First pitch for game one of Saturday’s doubleheader is scheduled for 11 a.m. Right-hander Jarret Whorff will toe the rubber for Tech in game one.