By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – A consistent offensive attack was all the Tennessee Tech baseball team needed to grab its 14th win of the season Tuesday afternoon, hammering home 15 runs in a 15-6 victory at UNC Asheville.
Eight Golden Eagles recorded hits in the contest and eight Tech players also recorded at least one RBI. Leading all players on the day was freshman Anthony El Chibani, who garnered his first career start against the Bulldogs. Starting in left field, El Chibani went 2-for-4 on the day with two runs scored and a team-high three RBI while also drawing one walk.
Second baseman Zach Zarzour and center fielder Jake Rowland each collected three hits in the contest. Catcher Jordan Hopkins, designated hitter Tyler Brazelton, and Rowland each finished with two RBI apiece.
Reliever Cain Sloan collected his first career win, tossing three innings while surrendering just four hits. He also struck out two in the contest while combining with starter Jeb Scoggins and relievers Chris Chism, Stanton Taylor, Jacob Honea, and Vann Boyce to help Tech to its 14th win.
UNC Asheville made a comeback bid, scoring runs in the bottom of the second, third, fourth, and fifth innings. The Bulldogs even managed to take advantage of a two-inning scoring drought by the Golden Eagles, gathering a slim, 6-5 lead with two runs in the bottom of the fifth.
Brazelton kicked off the Tech rally in the top of the sixth, ripping a single to center field. El Chibani followed with his own single to right field, advancing Brazelton to third base. A walk by Zarzour loaded the bases for Jake Rowland, who promptly took a pitch the other way for an RBI single through the left side to tie things up at 6-6. El Chibani then scored on a ground out by Stephens to give Tech the lead for good.
One inning later, the Golden Eagles really got cooking, striking four times to put the game away. It all started with a leadoff double by Brandon Thomasson, who finished the game with a hit, run scored, and RBI. Dylan Bosheers followed with a single to to Bulldog pitcher, extending his career-long hitting streak to 14 games.
Jordan Hopkins singled in the next at bat, laying down a bunt that drove in Thomasson. A sac bunt by Brazelton moved Bosheers and Hopkins into scoring position for El Chibani. The freshman delivered with a two-run single left field, advancing to third base off a throwing error. Zarzour walked for the second-straight at bat and forced a bad pickoff attempt by the Bulldog pitcher, allowing El Chibani to score and give Tech a 10-5 lead.
The Bulldogs did manage to grab one more run in the seventh, but another three scores by Tech in the eighth inning pushed any comeback attempt straight out of the minds of the UNC Asheville players.
Brazelton collected a bases-loaded walk to gather his first RBI of the game, driving in Miles for another Golden Eagle run. El Chibani followed with a sac fly to center field and Zarzour wrapped up the eighth inning scoring with an RBI single through the left side.
In the ninth, Thomasson grabbed an RBI off a sac fly to center field, driving in Stephens who had walked in the leadoff at bat and advanced to third base off a double by Miles. Brazelton drove in his second run of the game off a single to center field, providing Tech with its final score of 15-6.
Vann Boyce entered to grab the final three outs for the Tech squad and did just that. The junior lefty struck out the side in his second appearance of the year, finishing off Tech's 14th victory.
The Golden Eagles showed great plate discipline on the day, drawing nine walks and collecting 15 hits.
Tech will return to Cookeville for a single, midweek contest against Berea on Wednesday, Mar. 12. Freshman Kyle Keatts will make his first career start, taking his first pitch at 3 p.m. CT.