By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - There aren't many things that the Tennessee Tech baseball team doesn't know how to do. The Golden Eagles can hit, they can pitch, and they play defense with the best of them. It seems these days the only thing they don't know how do to is give up. And that was proven once again Tuesday evening.
Trailing by three runs heading to the bottom of the eighth inning, the Golden Eagles did what they have done when faced with adversity most of the season. They rallied, scoring four runs to cap a 10-9, come-from-behind victory over in-state rival Lipscomb.
After defeating Tech 12-1 in Nashville in the fourth game of the season, Lipscomb looked like they hadn't missed a beat, scoring four runs on three home runs in the second inning. They extended their lead to 5-0 heading to the bottom of the third.
Tech wouldn't give up, however, collecting two runs in the bottom of the third off a double down the left field line by senior outfielder Austin Wulf. They added two more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning as well. Dylan Bosheers led off the inning with single to left center field. Senior outfielder Michael Morris followed, hammering his first home run of the season over the fence in right center field to cut the lead to 5-4.
With one out in the top of the fifth and the bases loaded, Lipscomb looked sure to extend its lead. That's when senior catcher Evan Frazier made the defensive play of the game. Bison batter Zach Lowery punched a little dribbler to pitcher Nick Price. Price tossed the ball to Frazier at first to get out number two. Frazier then immediatley fired the ball down the third base line to Daniel Miles to catch the Lipscomb runner who rounded third a bit too far for an inning-ending double play.
In the bottom of the sixth, Tech pulled even as senior outfielder James Abraham crushed his first dinger of the year, a solo shot to left center field.
The Bisons collected three more runs in the seventh inning, taking an 8-5 lead while looking to keep the Golden Eagles down and out.
Once again, Tech wouldn't give in, as junior slugger Zach Stephens ripped an RBI single to left field to bring the Golden Eagles within two.
In the top of the eighth inning, Lipscomb looked to land its knockout puch, scoring a run to retake its three run lead and end all hope of a comeback by Tech.
That's when the Golden Eagles truly displayed their toughness and moxy.
In the bottom of the eighth, Lipscomb forced a double play after walking Dylan Bosheers to start the inning. With two outs, surely the Golden Eagles were done for.
Or not. Morris drew a seven pitch walk and Frazier followed by getting hit by a pitch. Both players advanced on a wild pitch and suddenly the Golden Eagles were showing signs of life with runners on second and third.
After getting down 1-2 in the count, second baseman Zach Zarzour punched in a clutch hit, drilling a shot off a lunging Lipscomb shortstop that drove in both Frazier and Morris to bring Tech within one run. Wulf followed right way, lacing a groundball that hopped over a leaping jump by the Bisons first baseman, and sliding safely into second with a double to put runners at second and third.
At this point, it just seemed like destiny that the comeback would be complete. Stephens fell behind in the count 1-2, but even then there was a sense that something great was about to happen as he stepped into the batters box. And then it happened. Stephens drilled a single through the left side of the infield, driving in both runners and giving Tech a 10-9 lead.
From that point, it was just recording three outs and Tech would have its 37th win of the year. Sophomore closer Seth Lucio came in and recorded two quick outs. Lipscomb showed some fight, collecting two hits before Lucio finished it off with a strikeout to earn his 11th save of the season.
Sophomore reliever Byron Skinner earned his first win of the season, tossing 1.2 innings while surrendering just one run. Stephens led the Tech offense with three RBI on 2-for-4 hitting. Morris, Zarzour, and Wulf each recorded two hits and two RBI apiece.
The win helped the Golden Eagles keep their momentum from last weekend's sweep at SEMO going as they head into the regular season series finale against Belmont.
The Ohio Valley Conference season finale will pit the first place Golden Eagles against the second place Belmont Bruins in a three game series for the regular season championship. With two wins, Tech can clinch the title outright, while one victory will guarantee the team at least a share of the championship.
Game one of the series will begin at 6 p.m. CDT on Thursday as Tech ace Tristan Archer will look to outduel Belmont lefty Chase Brookshire, the OVC preseason Pitcher of the Year.