JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – Tennessee Tech was one out from
victory Wednesday night, but East Tennessee got new life with a
dramatic, two-out home run in the bottom of the ninth to send the
game to extra innings.
In the bottom of the 13th, Michael Gonzales slapped a one-out, bases loaded, 3-2 pitch to right for a game-winning RBI single as the Bucs salvaged an 8-7 victory.
The hit scored Andrew Green, who opened the inning with a double
before ETSU loaded the bases with two intentional walks. It spoiled
an otherwise strong relief outing by Ryan Hopkins, Tech's
seventh pitcher in the contest. He took the loss, working the final
2 2/3 innings with three strikeouts.
Chad Hayes had three of Tech's 13 hits, while Austin Wulf, A.J. Kirby-Jones, Chad Oberacker and Cassanova Donaldson had two hits apiece.
Green had four hits for ETSU while four others players had two hits each in the Bucs' 16-hit night.
Bo Burton, who pitched the final four scoreless innings, earned the win. The fifth pitcher in the game for ETSU, he walked one, struck out six and didn't allow a hit.
Tech had a 3-0 lead in the first inning before ETSU tied the game with three in the bottom of the inning. Tech's big swing was a two-run double by Donaldson while Paul Hoilman had a two-run double for ETSU.
Tech took a 4-3 lead in the fifth on a sacrifice bunt by Oberacker that scored Wulf. In the sixth, the Golden Eagles went up 6-3 as Hayes and Wulf each produced run-scoring singles.
ETSU got two back in the bottom of the sixth to make it 6-5 before Nick Price got out of the jam, leaving three Buc runners stranded.
Kirby-Jones hit his 19th home run of the season in the top of the seventh to make it a 7-5 Golden Eagle lead, but that was the last time a Tech runner would touch home.
The Bucs scored one run in the bottom of the eighth, and were down to their final out in the ninth when Garrett May delivered his fourth home run of the season off closer Stephen Pryor to knot the score.
Green doubled to open the bottom of the 13th inning so Tech intentionally walked the dangerous-hitting Hoilman. An infield groundout advanced both runners, so Tech
also walked Bo Reeder intentionally to set up a potential force out. Instead, Gonzalez worked the count full then poked a single to right for the decision.
The Golden Eagles turn their attention to the weekend for a crucial three-game Ohio Valley Conference series at Eastern Kentucky.