May 15, 2011

Suicide squeeze gets Tech the sweep; Sunday shows second series walk-off

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Sunday's Senior Day celebration was a day full of deja vu for the Golden Eagles, as they found themselves in yet another extra inning battle with the Skyhawks of UT Martin. The two teams fought through 11 innings of play before senior Trice Powers' single appearance of the contest yielded the second straight, 8-7, walk-off win of the series for Tech.

Martin took the early 1-0 lead in the top of the first on an RBI double by Chase Okey hitting in the two spot, but surrendered it quickly in the bottom of the frame on a one run double by Chad Oberacker and an RBI groundout by Ben Burgess.

From that point on, the game showcased seven lead changes and two tie scores as neither team could build to more than a single-run lead through all 11 innings of play.

The Golden Eagles notched a 7-6 lead at the bottom of the eighth inning, putting up one run on a hit and two Skyhawk errors, the first of which put designated hitter Tevis Sherfield on base with one out for Chad Hayes, who moved Sherfield to second with a single through the left side. A second error put lead-off man Austin Wulf on first and scored Sherfield, putting Tech on top with the chance to hold Martin in the top of the ninth for the win.

But the Skyhawks loaded the bases on Oberacker - who came on in relief for Nick Price -  with two outs, and Drew Mason was responsible for a single into left field that scored Colton Young, pinch running for Phil Sorensen. Sorensen paced the Skyhawks with a 2-for-3 effort at the plate that yielded three RBI on the day.

Sherfield would end his day going 2-for-5 with one run scored and an RBI for Tech, which had six hitters combine for the team's eight runs on 14 hits. Leading the way offensively was Oberacker, who went 4-for-6 at the plate with two runs scored and an RBI on the day.

One of Oberacker's hits came at an opportune moment, to lead off the 11th inning with a double into left field with the scored tied at 7-7 to set the stage for the eventual suicide squeeze. On second with no outs, Oberacker moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Ben Burgess.

With the sole out of the inning posted, Trice Powers was called from the dugout to pinch hit for Michael Morris. Powers laid down a perfectly executed squeeze bunt and reached first on a fielder's choice as Oberacker sped home, sliding in to beat the play and clinch the win and the weekend sweep for Tech.

Powers' appearance marked only his tenth at-bat and only RBI of the season, as well as his first career walk-off performance.

On the defensive end, Oberacker pitched the final 7.1 innings of the game for Tech, surrendering just two runs on four hits and notching nine strikeouts for the win, improving to 2-2 on the year. Martin's Alex Boshers demonstrated equal tenacity, making his second appearance of the weekend and pitching through 9.2 innings after starter Wes Patterson left the game in the first inning due to an aggravated injury. Boshers shouldered the loss, allowing six runs – for of the earned – on 12 hits, falling to 4-2 on the season. 

Tech's improved record of 23-25 overall, 11-10 in the conference leaves them in fourth place in conference standings. They'll head to Murray State for their final regular season series of the season next weekend before the commencement of the 2011 post-season tournament in Jackson, Tenn.