By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – After a marathon 54-game stretch, the regular season has finally come to a close for the Tennessee Tech baseball team (39-15, 24-6), marking the end of an impressive era for the 2013 senior class at Bush Stadium at the Averitt Express Baseball Complex.
Tech fell to the Belmont Bruins (37-18, 22-8), 13-10, on a day dedicated to honoring both the current and past greats of the Tennessee Tech baseball program.
The seniors were honored in a ceremony prior to the game Saturday afternoon, each receiving a special gift and standing ovation for their hard work and dedication as athletes over the past four years. Several alums of the Golden Eagle program were in attendance at the game, receiving special recognition following the sixth inning.
The Golden Eagles began the game just as they had all series, getting to the best pitching staff early behind a monster, signature inning. After Belmont started the game off with two runs in the top of the first, Tech answered in a big way.
The OVC champs quickly got on the board, using an RBI single by Zach Stephens to cut the lead in half. They then loaded the bases, brining third baseman Daniel Miles to the plate with a chance to hit his third grand slam in as many days. Belmont managed to set down Miles without any damage, but missed the chance to avoid getting out of the inning.
Shortstop Dylan Bosheers (photo above right) came to the plate next, crushing a grand slam over the fence in left center field. The long ball marked a program-record third straight game with a grand slam and gave Tech a 5-2 lead after one.
Stephens hit his own home run in the bottom of the second inning, giving him an OVC-leading 15 on the year and providing Tech with a 7-3 lead after two.
The Bruins surged back over the next four innings, tying the game at 8-8 in the top of the sixth off of clutch two-strike hitting.
The Golden Eagles grabbed a two-run lead in the bottom of the seventh off a two-run single by senior Michael Morris. Belmont had different plans for the day, however, rallying once more to tie things at 10-10 in the eighth and taking the lead for good with three runs in the top of the ninth inning.
Stephens led the Golden Eagle offense on the day, going 3-for-5 with three RBI and three runs scored. Bosheers led Tech with four RBI on a 2-for-4 day at the plate while scoring two runs. Morris also finished the game with three RBI on 2-of-4 hitting.
Tech finished the OVC season 24-6 to claim the regular season championship. The 24 Conference wins were the most in OVC history. Including a pair of divisional championships in 1970 and 1988, it is the eighth OVC title for the Golden Eagles. The team has also won the outright title in 1949, 1955, 1956, 1997 and 2010.
The team's 39 overall victories on the season are tied for the most in program history. The team enters the postseason having won 18 of its last 24 games. Tech will be the No. 1 seed for the OVC Tournament and open play on Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. CDT after receiving a first round bye. Overall it is the 15th tournament appearance for the program and first since 2011.
Fans can watch the entire 2013 OVC Baseball Tournament live on the OVC Digital Network. There is no charge to watch the event and the games are available on any computer, tablet or smart phone.
Tickets for the event will be $10 per day or $28 for an all-session pass (up to 11 total games). There is also a $8 a day rate (or $25 for an all-tournament pass) for students/faculty of OVC-member schools (with valid ID) or for groups. All seats at the 6,000-seat park are general admission for the OVC Championship.
Fans can purchase tickets in person at the Jackson Generals box office or by calling (731) 988-5299 or going online here: https://www.ticketreturn.com/prod2/team.asp?sponsorid=4577.