By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech baseball team couldn't quite pull off the comeback bid Thursday evening, as the Golden Eagles fell, 10-6, to the Belmont Bruins despite a late rally in the seventh inning.
The Tech squad turned to its most dangerous bats to cut a three-run deficit in the top of the seventh, scoring three times to nod the game at 6-6. Leadoff man Zach Zarzour drew a seven-pitch walk to start the frame, extending his career-high reached bases streak to 26 games.
Senior slugger Zach Stephens stepped to the plate next, and after fighting off a couple pitches and working a 2-2 count, the first baseman clobbered a two-run shot to left field, trimming the Belmont advantage to just one run.
After a long fly out by third baseman Daniel Miles, senior right fielder Brandon Thomasson approached the plate, smack dab in the middle of the biggest tear of his career. The slugger kept it going, belting a solo bomb to right field to tie the contest at 6-6.
Belmont answered with three runs in the bottom of the inning and added an insurance run in the eighth to keep itself in playoff contention.
The home run marked the 21st of the year for Thomasson, tying him for the national lead with A.J. Reed of Kentucky. He now has 42 extra base hits this season, tallying a Division I-leading 163 total bases. He also ranks second in the country with 69 RBI while slugging .751, also second in the nation.
Stephens led the team on the day, driving in two runs while walking twice. The long ball marked the 16th of the year for the veteran Tech player, giving him 59 for his career. It marks the second highest home run total of his career, just two shy of the 18 he hit as a sophomore.
Bruin catcher Jamie Ritchie led all batters in the contest, grabbing four hits in five at bats, including two solo home runs and a three-run double to tally five RBI and score three runs.
Freshman reliever Kyle Keatts was dealt his first loss of the season, giving up two earned runs. Bruin Chase Cunningham grabbed the win in the contest, tossing two innings of relief and giving up just two runs.
Game two of the series will take place at 5 p.m. CT in Nashville as the Golden Eagles will look to move one step closer to clinching the No. 2 seed in the OVC tournament.