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February 18, 2014

Golden Eagles rally twice behind Thomasson, take down Blue Raiders 9-5

By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - It took two rallies to get the job done, but the Tennessee Tech baseball team (3-1) prevailed over in-state rival Middle Tennessee (1-3) Tuesday afternoon, defeating the Blue Raiders 9-5 in Murfreesboro.

Senior Brandon Thomasson led the Tech offense, cracking out two long balls on the day while recording three RBI. He finished the contest going 3-for-5 and three runs scored. Catcher Jordan Parris added two RBI as well, ripping an RBI double and collecting a bases-loaded walk.

Junior right-hander Jacob Honea picked up his first win of the season, tossing three innings of shut-out relief for freshman starter Evan Fraliex.

Middle Tennessee jumped off to a quick start, scoring two runs in the bottom of the first thanks to two triples and a sacrifice fly. Fraliex then set aside his jitters, blanking the Blue Raiders over the next three innings.

The Golden Eagles cut the MTSU lead in half in the top of the second after Thomasson crushed one of his two home runs in the contest just inside the left field foul pole. Three innings later, the Tech squad struck again, this time taking over the lead.

In the top of the fifth, junior Jordan Hopkins patiently drew a walk on a full count. Two batters later, Parris drilled his double down the left field line, scoring Hopkins and evening things up at 2-2. With two outs, Dylan Bosheers reached base on a throwing error that scored Parris and allowed the shortstop to advance to second and set up slugger Zach Stephens with a runner in scoring position.

The senior wasn't given a chance to attack as the Blue Raiders decided to intentionally walk the first baseman. A passed ball on the third pitch of the at-bat did manage to move Bosheers over to third base, setting up senior Daniel Miles with a chance to extend the lead. The third baseman came through, singling down the left field line to give Tech a 4-2 advantage.

The Blue Raiders answered in the bottom half of the inning, scoring three runs after loading the bases with no outs against Tech's freshman starter. Honea replaced Fraliex, limiting the damage to three runs, but Middle Tennessee had achieved what they had hoped. MTSU grabbed a 5-4 advantage and look well on its way to a home-opening victory.

But the Golden Eagles answered the call once again, rallying a second time in the eighth and adding insurance runs in the ninth. Miles and Thomasson each managed infield singles to kickstart the top of the eighth inning before using a single through the right side by center fielder Jake Rowland to load the bases.

Hopkins came to plate, forcing Middle Tennessee to pitch its way out of trouble. Instead, he induced an RBI walk to tie the game at 5-5. Parris followed suit, garnering his own RBI walk to give Tech the lead for good. Leadoff man Zach Zarzour got plunked by a pitch on the next Blue Raider effort, scoring the Golden Eagles' first insurance run to up the lead to 7-5.

MTSU escaped the inning with no further damage and a glimmer of hope for a comeback of its own, but Thomasson and Tech closer Seth Lucio shut the door on those hopes.

Thomasson launched his second dinger of the game in the top of the ninth, blasting a two-run shot to right center field. Lucio entered the contest in the bottom half to finish the comeback effort and give Tech its 9-5 victory.

Both Thomasson and Miles collected three-hit games for the Tech squad and Stephens added a multi-hit game of his own, going 2-for-4 at the dish.

The Golden Eagles will return to Cookeville for their home-opening series beginning Friday. Tech will host NYIT in a four-game series that features a double header on Saturday. First-pitch is set for a 3 p.m. CT start on Friday with junior righty Chris Chism expected to take the hill for the TTU squad.