COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - It's been a great few months for Tennessee Tech pitcher Ross Spurgeon (2-1) as the transfer from Cleveland State Community College has gone from limited action in the bullpen, to steady reliever to weekend starter for the Golden Eagles (25-10, 14-3).
Saturday made the progression of it all that much more special as the Cookeville native gathered a victory in his first career start at Bush Stadium at the Averitt Express Baseball Complex, a 5-2 win over the Eastern Illinois Panthers (12-20, 3-10).
Earning his third start of the season, Spurgeon threw six solid innings, scattering seven hits and allowing just two earned runs with one strikeout. It marked the second victory of the season for the right hander and the first victory in game that he has started.
EIU starter Joe Greenfield was tabbed with the loss, despite pitching all eight innings for the Panthers. The junior hurler gave up 12 hits to a tune of five runs, four earned, while striking out three.
The Golden Eagles got things started on the offensive side of the ball, scoring after just three pitches in the first inning. After a first-pitch double by lead-off man Zach Zarzour, senior Austin Wulf drove him in with a single to center field.
Eastern Illinois evened things up in the third, grabbing an RBI off a bloop single by center fielder Nick Priessman. Spurgeon kept his cool, however, forcing the next batter to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Tech answered back in the bottom half, grabbing an RBI double off the bat of junior slugger Zach Stephens after a single by Wulf. Brandon Thomasson collected a base hit to right field, advancing to second on an error by the right fielder. Daniel Miles drove in Stephens with a ground out to shortstop, allowing Thomasson to advance to third base. That set up shortstop Dylan Bosheers for an RBI single to the Panther shortstop, giving the Golden Eagles a 4-1 advantage after three innings.
In the bottom of the fourth, Tech opened the inning with a singles by James Abraham and Jordan Parris. After a sacrifice bunt by Zarzour advanced the runners to second and third, Wulf grabbed his second RBI of the game with a ground out to the shortstop, giving the Golden Eagles a 5-1 lead.
The Panthers cut the lead down by a run in the top of the fifth as first baseman Treysen Vavra crushed a ball over the center field wall with two outs. That would be all for the EIU bats in the fifth, however, as Spurgeon set down the next batter.
The Tech pitching staff took over from that point, throwing four straight innings of shutout ball to give the Golden Eagles its 25th win of the year and 10th straight series win to start the 2013 season.
Sophomore closer Seth Lucio pitched a perfect ninth, earning his seventh save of the year and tying the Tech single-season saves record. Lucio struck out the second batter he faced, forcing the other two EIU players to fly out.
Wulf stood tall as the top offensive threat of the day, driving in two runs on a 2-for-4 day from the plate. Thomasson, Zarzour, and Abraham also collected two hits in the contest.
The Golden Eagles will look for its third sweep of an Ohio Valley Conference opponent on Sunday as Jacob Honea takes the hill against Panther righty Matt Borens. First pitch for game three is set for 1 p.m. CDT.