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May 10, 2009

Tech completes three-game sweep of Jacksonville State to wrap up OVC play

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Led by an outstanding pitching performance from senior Michael Alcorn, the Tennessee Tech baseball team completed a three-game sweep of Ohio Valley Conference opponent Jacksonville State with a 6-4 win Sunday.

Alcorn, a fifth-year senior, got the start on senior day, and racked up 12 strikeouts with only one walk in the complete-game win. “That pitching performance was truly heroic,” head coach Matt Braggasaid. “For him to go out like that the last time he will ever pitch on that mound, that’s just phenomenal.”

Alcorn allowed four runs on seven hits in the performance, his first complete game of the season.

“It felt really good to have that kind of game,” Alcorn said. “Especially on senior day, and with our team needing to win.”

The Golden Eagles (25-20-1, 10-11-1) took a pair of games from the Gamecocks (28-20, 10-10) on Saturday, winning 5-1 and 5-3.

Alex Henry, Chad Oberacker, Ben Burgess, Evan Webb, and Chad Hayes allhad an RBI for Tech, which got all six of its runs in the fifth inning.

In that fifth inning, a pair of walks and a passed ball put runners onsecond and third with no outs for Hayes, who knocked in a run on aground out to the second baseman. Another walk put runners on the corners with Henry up to bat, and he cashed in with an RBI single toleft that scored Heath Cheverton. With two runners on and still just one out, A.J. Kirby-Jones came to the plate, and drew an intentional walk, to load the bases for Burgess. An RBI single from Burgess scored a run and kept the bases loaded, and after Casanova Donaldson fouled out, Webb drew a walk, scoring another run for Tech. Another passed ball with the bases loaded scored Tech’s sixth and final run of the inning.

“In baseball, the big inning is such an important part of the game,”Bragga said. “Our guys have worked hard all season long, and today we were fortunate to be on the right side of the big inning.”

The Gamecocks would cut the deficit to 6-4 with a two-run homer in the top of the eighth, but wouldn’t get any closer.

Ben Tootle, the OVC’s pre-season Pitcher of the Year, got the loss forthe Gamecocks after pitching 4.1 innings and allowing just one hit.

“It was really big for us to get him out of the game when we did,”Bragga said. “He was tough to hit, but our guys were patient and drew some key walks which helped get to him.”

Burgess finished the day going 2-for-4 from the plate, and Henry,Oberacker, Donaldson, Kirby-Jones and Cheverton each finished with one hit.

The win put the Golden Eagles in good position to advance to the OVC baseball tournament May 20-24 in Paducah, Ky. Tech is battling with Eastern Kentucky and Austin Peay for the final two spots in the six team tournament. The Golden Eagles conference schedule is finished, as every other OVC team has three conference games left on the schedule.

“If we don’t end up making it, then I guess it just wasn’t meant to be,” Bragga said. “We did our job this weekend, and we finished the regular season with a bang and we left it all on the field.”

The Golden Eagles will travel to Southern Mississippi for a three-game series May 14-16 to wrap up the regular season.