COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - In a game that featured three lead changes and a tie heading into the ninth inning, the Tennessee Tech baseball team (2-1) emerged victorious, defeating the Illinois Fighting Illini (1-2) 7-6 in walk-off fashion with a home run by junior designated hitter Brandon Thomasson.
The contest featured no shortage of excitement as the Golden Eagles opened the first inning on a tear. Sophomore starting pitcher Jacob Honea struck out the side to open the ball game, sitting down the Illini 1-2-3. The Tech batters came out in full support, with senior center fielder Austin Wulf gathering a one-out hit. He advanced to second base on a wild pitch and to third after a groud ball from junior first baseman Zach Stephens. Wulf then scored on a single down the third base line by junior third baseman Daniel Miles.
The Illini answered back in the second, scoring two runs to take a one run advantage. The Golden Eagles returned fire in the third and fifth, picking up two runs in each inning. Left fielder James Abraham, right fielder Michael Morris, catcher Jordan Hopkins, and Thomasson all gathered RBI in the innings as Tech jumped out to a 5-2 lead.
Illinois pulled even with the Golden Eagles, scoring three runs in the seventh inning. Tech would answer the call again, grabbing another run in the bottom of the seventh off a double from junior second baseman Zach Zarzour.
Once again, the Illini tied the game, scoring another run in the top of the eighth to even things at 6-6.
One more time, Tech struck back, with a two-out, walk-off dinger from Thomasson. The home run was the first for the team this season and the first of Thomasson's early career as a Golden Eagle.
Picking up the win for the Golden Eagles was sophomore right-hander Seth Lucio. He finished the contest with two strike outs in 1.1 innings pitched.
Thomasson led Tech with two RBI, while Abraham recorded three hits in five trips to the plate. He finished with an RBI and a run. Six different Golden Eagles recorded at least one RBI, including Zarzour, Miles, Abraham, Morris, Thomasson, and Hopkins.
Illinois recieved two-hit performances from Justin Parr, Jordan Parr, and Michael Hurwitz, with each recording an RBI. The Illini gathered just eight hits in the game.
The Golden Eagle pitchers collected 13 strike outs in the contest, including seven from Honea.
The team will continue the 2013 campaign with a road contest at Lipscomb on Tuesday, Feb. 19. The game is scheduled for a 4 p.m. CST start in Nashville.