HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Senior Ryan Dennick pitched six-plus
innings of one-hit ball for the Tennessee Tech baseball team in the
nightcap of a doubleheader against Southern Miss. The Golden Eagles
topped USM 7-1 after falling 10-2 in the first game, both seven
Sophomore A.J. Kirby-Jones pitched the seventh inning for the Golden Eagles, after hitting a two-run homer, and a sacrifice fly to notch three RBIs from the plate earlier in the game.
Tech (26-21-1, 10-11-1) drew first blood when consecutive walks to start the fourth inning put Chad Oberacker and Kirby-Jones on base for Ben Burgess, who singled up the middle, and after a fielding error, Oberacker scored to put the Golden Eagles up 1-0. The next batter, Evan Webb, hit a sac-fly to center that scored Kirby-Jones. Tech got its third run of the inning when senior catcher Cory Wright hit an RBI single that scored Burgess.
Tech took a 5-0 lead in the fifth inning when Kirby-Jones hit his 17th home run of the season, which scored Alex Henry who walked earlier in the inning. The homer put Kirby-Jones in a tie for second place in Tech history for home runs in a season. He also climbed into third place in single-season RBIs with 61.
The Golden Eagles added two more runs in the top of the seventh with the help of Kirby-Jones’ sac-fly, and an RBI single from Webb.
USM got a run back in the bottom of the seventh with four consecutive walks, two from Dennick and two from Kirby-Jones, to begin the inning.
Dennick finished the game with one strikeout and two walks, while only allowing one hit and an earned run.
In the first game, USM used a five-run third inning to take a 6-0 lead that Tech couldn’t overcome. TTU got both its runs in the top of the fourth inning, but USM would add another run in the bottom of that frame, and three more in the fifth to go up 10-2.
The two teams, both the Golden Eagles, will play the rubber match Saturday at 1 p.m., while the Tech awaits its fate in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament. Tech will qualify for the six-team field if either Jacksonville State or Eastern Kentucky lose Saturday. JSU dropped a pair of games against UT Martin today, and EKU split a doubleheader against regular season champion Eastern Illinois. Both teams will play the series finale Saturday at 1 p.m.