By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
MOBILE, Ala. - A big fourth inning proved to be just enough for the No. 36 ranked Tennessee Tech baseball team Sunday morning, as the Golden Eagles (2-1) defeated South Alabama (1-2) in a 5-4 rubber match.
The Jaguars opened play with a lone run in the bottom of the first inning, taking a quick 1-0 advantage. But the Tech bats struck with force in the top of the fourth and the Golden Eagle pitching staff held on the rest of the way to give the Golden Eagles a big season-opening series win.
Third baseman Daniel Miles started things for Tech in the fourth, singling through the left side with one of his two hits on the day. Two batters later, shortstop Dylan Bosheers drew a walk on a full count. Freshman Andrew Contreras mimicked Bosheers with a walk of his own to load the bases for catcher Jordan Hopkins.
In his first start of the season, Hopkins came through in the clutch, drilling a double down the right field line to nab a 2-1 lead for the Golden Eagles. Junior left fielder David Allen followed suit, ripping his own double to left center field to clear the bases and double the Tech advantage to 4-1. It marked the first career RBI for Allen, who saw limited action last season and sat out his first two seasons at Tech as a redshirt freshman and then with an injury.
Senior second baseman Zach Zarzour drove in Allen on the next pitch, singling through the left side to give the Golden Eagles a 5-1 lead they would not relinquish.
South Alabama tried to answer in the bottom half of the inning, scraping across two runs, but junior starter John Gora closed the door on a full comeback, striking out the final batter to end the Jaguar threat.
The Jaguars tallied one more run in the bottom of the seventh and had several chances down the stretch to tie things up, but a combination of timely pitching and strong defense helped Tech to strand 11 batters throughout the contest.
Junior closer Seth Lucio entered the game with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, putting the hammer down for his second close of the year and 14th of his career.
Miles, Hopkins, and Allen all led the Golden Eagle offense against South Alabama, recording two hits each with both Allen and Hopkins raking in two runs apiece.
Reliever Austin Tolle collected his first win as a Golden Eagle, tossing 2.2 innings of relief while striking out two and allowing just one earned run.
The Tech squad will return to the diamond on Tuesday, Feb. 18 as it heads for an in-state match-up at rival Middle Tennessee. First pitch is set for 3 p.m. CT in Murfreesboro.