By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The bats really set the tone for the Tennessee Tech baseball team Wednesday afternoon, particularly that of senior Brandon Thomasson, as the Golden Eagles (21-5) took down the visiting Miami (OH) RedHawks (10-12) in a 13-5 onslaught.
Thomasson mashed and slashed his way into the Tech record books, becoming the first Golden Eagle in over 20 years to hit for the cycle. The right fielder led the Golden Eagles with a 4-for-5 day at the dish, driving in four runs while scoring two more.
Things looked a little bleak for Tech in the top of the first as Dan Walsh smacked a solo home run to right center field. Miami (OH) then followed with back-to-back hits, prompting TTU head coach Matt Bragga to make a mound visit to starter Jacob Honea.
And whatever he said to the junior righty worked. Honea cruised from that point on through the fourth inning, striking out five batters and scattering four more hits. Thanks to a predetermined rotation of himself and at least two other Tech pitchers, Honea picked up his second victory of the season.
Backing him up the whole way was the Golden Eagle offense. Designated hitter Tyler Brazelton kicked things off out of the leadoff spot, cranking a double to right field. Daniel Miles doubled two batters later, lacing one to left center field to drive in Brazelton. Thomasson followed suit on the next pitch, ripping his own double to left field to drive in another run and give Tech a 2-1 lead.
And that was just the start. Tech tallied four more runs in inning number two, using a sac fly from Brazelton, RBI single from Miles, and two-run triple from Thomasson down the left field line. Through two innings the Golden Eagles led 6-1.
In the bottom of the third, senior slugger Zach Stephens clobbered a solo shot over the center field wall. The home run marked the 50th of his career, placing him just one behind A.J. Kirby-Jones for the all-time Tech record. Already the career-leader in RBI in program history, Stephens sits just four away from becoming the first Golden Eagle to hit 50 home runs and drive in 200 runs in a career.
Inning number four was a big one for Thomasson as the senior destroyed a ball on the second pitch he saw, sending a towering shot down the right field line for his team-leading eighth dinger and leaving him just a single shy of the cycle.
Thomasson fell short in the sixth, flying out to center field and seeming to end his chances at history. But the Golden Eagles gave the slugger one more chance. In the bottom of the eighth, Thomasson made his mark, singling up the middle and completing the cycle.
Five Golden Eagle pitchers combined to cover the final five innings of the game, allowing just four earned runs on six hits while combining for three strikeouts. Included in that group were Garrett Baugh, Cain Sloan, Evan Fraliex, Stanton Taylor, and Ross Spurgeon.
Jake Rowland smacked his third long ball of the year, firing a three-run shot over the right center field wall. Miles finished the day 2-for-5, raking in two runs while scoring two more himself. Brazelton put together arguably his best game as a Golden Eagle so far, going 2-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI.
The Golden Eagles will now head north for a crucial Ohio Valley Conference showdown with SIUE. The three-game set, which begins Friday with a 6 p.m. first pitch and runs through Sunday Mar. 30, will pit the Cougars (currently in second in the conference) against a potent offense by the Golden Eagles (currently third in the league).