NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Just under one year ago, Tennessee Tech baseball fans witnessed one of the most dominating pitching performances ever displayed at Bush Stadium, if not one of the most impressive in program history, as the Golden Eagles defeated Belmont, 8-5, back on May 16, 2013.
A relief pitcher at that point in the year, then-sophomore David Hess took over the mound from the winningest pitcher in Tech history (Tristan Archer) and promptly struck out an unfathomable 11 of the 14 batters he faced. The right-hander set down 11 Bruins via the K in just four and one third innings, allowing a single hit and no walks.
While the Tech ace didn't quite match those barbaric numbers Friday evening, Golden Eagle fans couldn't help but reminisce as the junior struck out six of the first seven batters he faced while fanning a total of 10 Bison players in just six innings of work. Hess earned his eighth victory of the season as Tech (35-12) defeated Lipscomb (26-20) in Nashville, 4-1.
No win is possible without offense and the Golden Eagles received plenty from senior slugger Brandon Thomasson. The right fielder slugged his 16th long ball of the season to left field, crushing a two-run shot that would prove to be enough to give Tech its 35th win of the year. Thomasson led Tech with a 2-for-3 day at the dish with two runs scored and two RBI.
Senior reliever Stanton Taylor garnered his first save as a Golden Eagle, tossing the final three frames while allowing just one hit, one earned run, and one walk. He punched out a career-high five batters on the night, including the final two he faced in the ninth.
Despite being out-dueled by Hess, Lipscomb hurler Ian Martinez-McGraw put together a solid showing, allowing three earned runs while pitching eight innings for the Bisons. He took just his second loss of the season while striking out four and walking one.
Hess was just downright dealing right out of the gate for the Golden Eagles, setting down six of the first seven Lipscomb challengers via the swinging strikeout. All in all he finished with nine swinging Ks, totaling 10 strikeouts for the second straight outing and the third time this season. He became the first Tech pitcher in over 10 years to accomplish the feat and has now tied Archer for the most 10-plus strikeout performances in a career in the past 10 years with five.
Thomasson's blast in the sixth inning not only broke up a 0-0 tie, it drove the senior into a tie for fifth place on Tech's all-time career home run list with a mark of 28 in just two seasons. He also now ranks sixth in single-season history with 16 dingers. He is now batting .332 on the year with 34 extra base hits and 56 RBI, both team and conference-leading marks.
After Lipscomb cut the Golden Eagle lead in half in the bottom of the seventh, Tech head coach Matt Bragga elected to send in freshman outfielder Anthony El Chibani as a pinch hitter in the eighth. The move proved to be perfect as the Knoxville native crushed his first career bomb, a solo shot to dead center field. The four-bagger gave Tech a 3-1 lead and all the momentum the team would need to finish the contest.
Shortstop Dylan Bosheers added the final run for Tech in the same inning, driving in a run with an RBI single up the middle.
The Golden Eagles will face off against the Bisons again Saturday evening in a 6 p.m. bout in Nashville before both squads make the return trip to Cookeville for a Sunday afternoon battle at 2 p.m.