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May 14, 2011

Hayes plays the hero; Tech sweeps Saturday contests against UT Martin

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Saturday's twinbill turned from an afternoon affair to a late night number under the lights, as the Golden Eagles tied game two in the bottom of the seventh inning to force extras on the day and took the game through 12 frames.

The second contest of the day featured three tie scores within the first seven innings of play, culminating in Chad Hayes' walk-off base hit to score pinch runner Zach Flynn in the bottom of the 12th inning. Flynn ran for Evan Frazier, who was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning.  He advanced to second on a sac bunt by Devin Rivers and to third on a groundout by Michael Morris. With a 1-2 count, Hayes' hard hit ball toed the third baseline, and UTM's third baseman Trey Karlen had no choice but to hope for a foul bounce.

It never came though, and Flynn crossed home easily to clinch the 8-7 walk-off win for the Golden Eagles, lifting them to 22-25 overall, 10-10 in the Ohio Valley Conference.

Game two started with both teams putting up two runs apiece in the first frame. A two-run single by Jordan Owen put Martin on top first, while a two-shot homer by Chad Oberacker provided the answer for Tennessee Tech.

Each team put up another run over the next two innings to show a tie score of 3-3 headed into the top of the fourth, but Martin opened the floodgates with a four-run inning that might have proven devastating for Tech. Golden Eagle starter Matt Shepherd gave up four runs on five consecutive hits with two outs on the board as UTM took a hefty 7-3 lead and put Shepherd on the line for the loss.

Karlen kicked off the fourth inning of scoring for UTM with a double that scored Matt Young, followed by a single by Chase Okey and RBI base hits by Cody Terry and Phil Sorensen. The final run of the inning came on an illegal pitch with Terry on third.

Tech remained undaunted however, and while the seventh frame yielded the tie, it was the three-run rally in the fifth that cut into the Skyhawk's lead, bringing Tech to within one. With two outs on the board, Ben Burgess launched a solo-shot to kickstart the scoring, which Frazier followed with a double down the right field line. Rivers walked to put two on for Zach Stephens, who ripped a two-RBI double into right center to set the score at 7-6.

Burgess also gets credit for the tying run, a sacrifice fly ball with the bases loaded to tie the score at seven-all, but the Golden Eagles were unable to complete the walk-off in seven innings.

Meanwhile Tech's freshman righty Justin Alexander, taking the hill in relief at the top of the fifth, allowed just two hits over 4.1 scoreless innings, striking out seven and walking one. Martin's starter Danny Kelley threw the first four innings for the Skyhawks, surrendering three runs on four hits before being replaced by Willie Frederick, who gave up another three in 1.2 innings pitched.

The battle of the bullpens continued as Cullen Park made his second appearance of the day in the ninth inning, relieving Alexander after he put two on with a walk and a hit. Park got the win after allowing just one hit and one walk over 3.2 innings, striking out six in the second contest to improve to 3-2 on the year.

Alec Mills took the loss for UT Martin and is now posting a 5-4 record on the season after a six inning, five strikeout effort that yielded two runs on five hits.

Game one showcased a slightly slower start for the Golden Eagles, as they fell behind 3-1 after two and a half innings of play before putting up dominant numbers in the bottom of the third and fourth frames to build to a commanding 10-3 lead.

The five-run third inning started with two outs and Casanova Donaldson at first on an infield single. Ben Burgess got plunked by UTM starter Dan Tobik to move Donaldson into scoring position, and Evan Frazier ripped an RBI single into right center to cut the lead to 3-2.

A walk to Devin Rivers batting in the seven-hole loaded the bases for Tech, and a passed ball scored Burgess to tie the game at three-all. Tobik juiced the bases again with a walk to Zach Stephens, setting Chad Hayes up for a 3 RBI effort on a double, stretched to a bases-clearing triple on an error by the right fielder.

Tobik was able to induce a foul fly to Wulf to get out of the inning, but Tech's Tristan Archer went 1-2-3 in the top of the fourth to put Tobik back on the mound with the score still standing at 6-3.

Momentum continued for the Golden Eagle order, as the entire line-up notched four more runs on five hits off of Tobik and his reliever, Alex Boshers. Donaldson got on with a one-out single up the middle, and stole second for Oberacker, who scored him on a single through the right side to stretch the lead to 7-3.

Burgess followed with a hit to push Oberacker to third, but was caught at second on Frazier's fielder's choice play for the second out of the inning, leaving men on the corners for Rivers. He delivered with an RBI single, and took second on a wild pitch for Stephen's two-RBI single to cap off the scoring on the inning, giving Tech their 10-3 lead.

Hayes' 1-for-4 effort paced Tech in scoring, as it yielded three RBI. Meanwhile, Oberacker, Donaldson and Burgess chipped in at the plate with 3-for-5, 3-for-4 and 2-for-3 performances respectively, each yielding one RBI.

The Skyhawks put up single-run innings in the top of the fifth and seventh to come within five, before a rain delay held the contest until 4:45 p.m. at a score of 10-5. When play resumed, Tech put another run on the board but held the Skyhawks scoreless for the rest of the game.

Martin was led offensively by Chase Okey and Cory Stooksbury, who each went 1-for-3 but logged multi-RBI outings in the process. Stooksbury's double in the second inning worked for two runs, while Okey got three on a single, a groundout and a lineout.

Archer took the win for the Golden Eagles, improving to 6-4 on the year after pitching six full innings, striking out three. Jared Dobbs worked the top of the seventh for the Golden Eagles, but Cullen Park finished the game with one hit and one K in two innings pitched.

Martin's Tobik shouldered the loss, falling to 3-7 having given up nine runs on eight hits and four walks in 3.1 innings of work.

With updated records of 22-25 to Tech and 18-30 to Martin, the teams will meet for Sunday's game three at 1 p.m.