February 19, 2010

Golden Eagles win season opener at Georgia Southern

STATESBORO, Ga. – The 2010 college baseball season is underway and the Tennessee Tech baseball team picked up right where it left off in 2009 -- winning. The Golden Eagles topped defending Southern Conference champion Georgia Southern Eagles 5-2 with the help of solid pitching and production from the middle and bottom of the batting order.

Senior left-handed pitcher Adam Liberatore was lights-out in his first action in almost a calendar year. Liberatore pitched 6.0 innings and allowed only three hits and no runs. Liberatore struck out five batters and walked only one.

Tech’s offense was led by sophomore Chad Hayes, who went 3-for-4 with one RBI and a run scored. Senior first baseman Tate McMillan went 2-for-3 and newcomers Seth Edwards and Devin Rivers also had two-hit games, going 2-for-4 from the plate.

Senior Lee Henry pitched two innings of relief for Tech, and allowed only one hit and no runs. A.J. Kirby-Jones came in for two thirds on an inning and recorded two strikeouts before Ryan Hopkins came in for the one-out save.

Tech got one on the board early, taking a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a single through the left side that scored Rivers from third. The Golden Eagles added to their lead in the fourth inning when McMillan doubled to left center and Hayes singled to put runners on the corner for Trice Powers. Powers executed a sac bunt that scored McMillan. Hayes would later score on a wild pitch to put Tech up 3-0.

Chad Oberacker led off the seventh inning with a double to right field, and would advance to third on a ground ball. After GSU intentionally walked Kirby-Jones, Ben Burgess laid down a sac bunt to score Oberacker from third and give the Golden Eagles a 4-0 lead. Devin Rivers hit a solo home run to lead off the eighth inning and give Tech a 5-0 lead. Georgia Southern would get two runs back in the bottom of the ninth before Tech sealed the 5-2 win.

Georgia Southern is coming off a 42-win season, SoCon championship, and a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Regional Tournament. The two teams will continue the three-game series on Saturday at 4 p.m. central. The series finale will be Sunday at 12:30. Tech will hold its home opener on Feb. 26 against Cleveland State in the first of a three-game series.