RUSTON, La. – First baseman Manny Garcia blasted a go-ahead three-run homer in game one of Friday's doubleheader, helping No. 17 Louisiana Tech record a 6-4 come-from-behind victory over the UAB Blazers at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park. The Blazers responded in game two with a 9-3 win to avoid the doubleheader sweep on Friday at the Love Shack.
Both games in Friday's doubleheader were seven innings.
The Bulldogs (19-7, 5-2 C-USA) and Blazers (10-15, 3-4 C-USA) will close out their four-game series at 1 p.m. on Saturday. Right-handed pitcher Jarret Whorff will go for his fifth pitching victory of 2021 in the series finale.
Game 1 Recap: No. 17 LA Tech 6, UAB 4
With a run in the first and second innings, UAB jumped ahead in the first game of Friday's doubleheader 2-0 following its first two team at-bats. Despite leaving five runners on base over the first two innings, LA Tech was able to string together quality at-bats off UAB ace Riley Davis, cashing in with runs in the third and fifth innings in the seven-inning contest.
The Bulldogs scored their first run of the ballgame in the bottom of the third when first baseman Manny Garcia drew a two-out walk to extend the inning. Garcia then stole second base to put a runner in scoring position for catcher Jorge Corona. The catcher knocked in the Bulldogs' first run of the day with an RBI single to left field on a 1-2 pitch, scoring Garcia from second to trim UAB's lead to 2-1.
The Blazers tallied their third run of game one with a sacrifice fly in the fifth. Left-handed reliever Kyle Griffen entered the game on the mound following the sacrifice fly, recording two quick outs with a groundout and a strikeout to send Tech to the decisive bottom of the fifth.
LA Tech put two of its first three base runners on in the bottom of the fifth after Wells recorded a one-out single and Bates drew a four-pitch walk. After Davis recorded his second out of the frame with a popout, Garcia stepped to the plate to record the hit of the ballgame. Facing a 2-2 count after three foul balls in the at-bat, Garcia launched the seventh pitch over the wall in left field to turn a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 Bulldog advantage.
Left fielder Adarius Myers, who hit a three-run, pinch-hit home run on Thursday, then extended the home team's lead with a two-out, two-RBI single to left field. Corona and designated hitter Ben Brantley notched a single and double, respectively, before Myers rifled one past the third baseman to make it 6-3 LA Tech. The Bulldogs scored all five of their runs in the fifth inning with two outs.
Griffen then sat down the Blazers in order in the sixth before allowing just one run in the seventh to push the game to its final tally. The Sulphur, Louisiana native earned his third pitching victory of 2021 after tossing 2.2 innings of one-run baseball with a pair of strikeouts. Bulldog starter Ryan Jennings allowed just three hits in his start for the Diamond Dogs.
Garcia paced the LA Tech offense with two hits, three RBI and two runs scored. His go-ahead blast in the fifth inning marked the second time this season he's hit a home run in back-to-back games.
Game 2 Recap: UAB 9, No. 17 LA Tech 3
The Blazers notched their first win of the weekend behind an eight-run fourth inning in the second game of Friday's doubleheader. First baseman Colton Schultz delivered the key hit in the fourth frame to blow the game open, recording a bases-clearing double with two outs to double UAB's lead from 3-0 to 6-0.
UAB scored six of its eight runs in the fourth inning with two outs. Right fielder Zack Davis tallied a two-run homer to extend the Blazers' advantage to 8-0 before the inning came to a close.
LA Tech tallied all three of its runs in the bottom of the seventh. Logan McLeod pinch hit and hammered his first double of the season to right field with one out before Cole McConnell, who pinch hit in the fifth inning and stayed in the game at left field, recorded a double of his own to put runners at second and third. Pinch hitter Bryce Wallace drew a four-pitch walk before leadoff batter Taylor Young sailed a fly ball to center field for a sacrifice fly.
RBI singles from third baseman Hunter Wells and centerfielder Parker Bates pushed the game to its final tally. Young and Bates each recorded a pair of hits in game two, while Young also added a pair of stolen bases on two attempts.
Left-hander Cade Gibson was handed his first loss as a starter in 2021. Gibson entered Saturday's start with allowing just one run over 17.1 innings pitched in a starter's role this season.