May 8, 2010

Tech extends OVC win streak to eight with Saturday sweep over Austin Peay

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Tech scored so many runs in the opener Saturday it was easy to lose sight of the gem by Golden Eagle pitcher Adam Liberatore. The senior lefty took a no-hitter into the fifth inning as Tech rolled to a 15-3 victory in the opening game of an Ohio Valley Conference doubleheader sweep over Austin Peay.

In the second game, the Golden Eagles got a solid effort on the mound from starter Lee Henry and a brilliant relief outing from Stephen Pryor to nail down a 6-1 victory and finish the twinbill sweep.

Tech has now won eight consecutive OVC games and improves to 22-21 overall and 8-5 in the league following an 0-5 conference start. It puts Tech in fourth place, just percentage points out of a tie for second place.

The final game of the series with APSU is Sunday at 1 p.m.

A.J. Kirby-Jones reached base seven times, Chad Oberacker was on six times and Chad Hayes had four hits as the Golden Eagles collected 10 hits in each game.

Liberatore (5-4) went seven innings, striking out eight and allowing two hits and three walks to get the win.

The Golden Eagles scored in six of the first seven innings, backing Liberatore by steadily building a 15-0 lead. Tech pounded out 10 hits and took advantage of five Governor errors, including four miscues in the five-run sixth inning.

After Liberatore struck out the side in the top of the first, Tech notched four in the bottom of the frame. The first two runs came home on an infield error, and the big blow was a two-run home run by Donaldson.

In the second, with two runners aboard, APSU chose to intentionally walk Kirby-Jones to load the bases and Oberacker delivered a two-run double to make it 6-0.

APSU got its first runner with a walk in the third, but Liberatore left him there, taking his no-hit bid to the fourth. Meanwhile, Tech added two more in on a home run by Austin Wulf, making it an 8-0 margin.

Libertatore got through another 1-2-3 inning in the fourth, and Tech's ninth run scored when Devin Rivers was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

John Hogan led off the fifth with a single, the first hit allowed by Liberatore. He walked a batter to put two on but got a strikeout to end the threat and preserve the shutout.

Tech's sixth inning included a hit batter, a couple of walks and a single, plus four errors by the Govs as Tech notched five runs and took the lead to 14-0.

The only other hit off Liberatore was a two-out double by Trey Lucas in the seventh.

Rivers picked up his third RBI in the seventh  that scored Brandon Crossman and made it 15-0.

That was the end of the line for Liberatore as Ryan Hopkins took over the mound duties in the eighth. A single and two walks loaded the bases, and a groundout scored the first run of the day for the Govs. A sacrifice fly and a single plated two more.

Matthew Shepherd worked a scoreless ninth for the Golden Eagles, wrapping up the victory.

APSU starter Ricky Marshall (4-5) took the loss, pitching four innings and allowed nine runs on seven hits. He walked six and struck out four. Matt Marsh pitched two innings, allowing five runs, and Lucas Anderson tossed the final two, giving up the final Tech run.

Unlike the first game, there was plenty of drama in the second contest before Tech broke loose late in the contest.

The Golden Eagles grabbed a 2-0 lead in the second inning. Donaldson walked and Burgess was nicked by a pitch, and both runners advanced on a passed ball. A sacrifice fly by Rivers scored Donaldson, and Hayes sliced an RBI single to right for the second run.

APSU got one in the third, but a heads-up play by second baseman Frankie Beech prevented the Govs from tying the game. With two out, Browett  and Hogan both singled. Lucas hit a fly ball toward right field that Donaldson lost in the lights. Browett came around to score, but Beech raced out and retrieved the ball and fired home, nailing Hogan attempting to score from first to end the inning.

Three singles loaded the bases for the Golden Eagles in the fourth, but the Govs turned a double play to get out of the inning.

Tech's three-run fifth inning made it a 5-1 lead. McMillan walked and Kirby-Jones doubled to start the rally. Oberacker's sacrifice fly plated McMillan, and Donaldson's single put runners on the corners. That brought in Zach Gerler on in relief, but he ran into trouble. A wild pitch let Kirby-Jones score, he hit two batters, and Hayes singled for the third run. Eric Davis replaced Gerler and got out of the inning.

There was more drama in the APSU sixth as the Govs loaded the bases with one out, bringing Stephen Pryor out of the bullpen. The hard-throwing junior, clocked in the mid 90s, struck out the two batters he faced, leaving three runners stranded and holding onto the four-run lead.

Once again, Tech loaded the bases with one out in the sixth, and the Govs nearly got out of the jam without any damage. A sacrifice fly by Ben Burgess brought home one run to make it 6-1, but reliever Matt Kole got a ground out to end the inning.

Henry (4-3) logged the win, going 5 1/3 innings and allowing just one run. He scattered six hits, walked five and struck out six. Pryor earned his fourth save of the season, pitching the final 1 2/3 innings. He struck out four and walked two.