Parker Bates slammed a walk-off, 3-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning Saturday to propel the 14th-ranked Louisiana Tech Bulldogs to a 10-7 victory and a doubleheader sweep over the UTSA Roadrunners.
In the Conference USA series being played at Ruston, La., Louisiana Tech leads two games to one going into the Sunday afternoon finale.
The Roadrunners took another successful swipe at one of the nation’s best teams Friday night when they downed the Bulldogs, 7-5. Arturo Guajardo got the last three outs with two runners on base for the save.
In the first game of Saturday’s twin-bill, Louisiana Tech bounced back behind pitcher Ryan Jennings, who hurled a complete-game, seven-inning three hitter in a 4-1 victory. Hunter Wells and Bates delivered run-scoring singles in a four-run fourth.
Jennings escaped a jam in the sixth when he allowed a two-out double to Dylan Rock and then struck out power-hitting Nick Thornquist to end the inning.
In the second game, the Roadrunners had their chances to split the doubleheader but couldn’t hold on to a pair of leads. They held a 3-0 edge in the second inning. They were up 4-2 in the fifth. In the bottom of the fifth, the momentum swung in favor of the Bulldogs, who scored five runs. Not to be outdone, the Roadrunners added three in the top of the seventh to make it 7-7.
When the game went to extra innings, UTSA couldn’t score in its half of the eighth. From there, the Roadrunners handed the ball to Guajardo, who got into trouble immediately. He walked Taylor Young. Then Hunter Wells singled, putting runners at first and second and bringing up Bates.
Bates, a fifth-year senior from Tyler, pulled a ball over the right field wall to win it.
Louisiana Tech’s resilience spoiled what could have been a big day for the Roadrunners. Coming into Saturday, UTSA had won three of its last five — all against Top 25 competition. They had split four games against Old Dominion last weekend in San Antonio and then had won the opener against LA Tech, a team viewed as likely to play in the NCAA tournament.
Tech will host the C-USA tournament, scheduled for May 26-30. Tech also is under consideration to host an NCAA first-weekend regional the following weekend. UTSA, in turn, likely needs to win the C-USA tourney title to nail down its first NCAA berth since 2013.
UTSA 22-23, 14-16
Louisiana Tech 35-14, 21-8
No. 4 Tennessee rallied in the bottom of the ninth on a Max Ferguson 3-run homer to down top-ranked Arkansas, 8-7, at Knoxville. The win squares the three-game series between SEC heavyweights at 1-1.
No. 2 Vanderbilt, behind starting pitcher Jack Leiter, routed 18th-ranked Ole Miss, 13-2, in Oxford. SEC series is tied 1-1 going into Sunday’s finale.
Unranked Missouri notched a 16-8 road victory to win the SEC series 2-1 against No. 3 Mississippi State, in Starkville.
Cal Conley and Dru Baker hit grand slams as No. 7 Texas Tech won on the road in the Big 12 at unranked Oklahoma, 15-2. The series is tied 1-1 going into Sunday’s finale.