By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A mid-game rally and brilliant relief pitching proved enough for the Tennessee Tech baseball team (7-4) to gather a 17-6 win at Lipscomb (6-7) Tuesday evening, earning head coach Matt Bragga his 400th career victory at the helm of the Golden Eagle program.
After dominating in a 27-7 win over the Bisons in Cookeville last week, Tech's victory Tuesday came in a much different way, albeit again by a large margin. In the two teams' first match-up, the Golden Eagles jumped out to a 12-0 lead through two innings, holding a double-digit lead the entire day.
In Nashville, however, it was Lipscomb that struck the scoreboard first, plating a single run in the first and four more in the second to force Bragga to turn to the bullpen facing a 5-0 deficit. The savvy general turned to graduate transfer Colton Provey, who set the tone in shutting down the Lipscomb offense the rest of the evening.
Provey tossed four and one third innings out of the bullpen, allowing just two hits and a single, unearned run in his time on the hill. The right-hander from the University of South Carolina struck out three while forcing the Bisons to put the ball in play and let his defense go to work. The outing earned him his first victory in the purple and gold.
Trailing 5-0 and being held to just a single hit through the first three innings, the Golden Eagle offense showed just why it came into the contest with the reputation as one of the country's most dangerous. The Golden Eagles scored six times in the top of the fourth to suddenly to take a 6-5 lead, highlighted by a game-tying, two-run home run to left field by freshman Jason Hinchman.
The Bisons evened things at 6-6 in the bottom half of the frame, gathering an unearned run on throwing error. Never backing down, the Tech bats went right back to work, using a sacrifice fly off the bat of senior Collin Harris to retake the lead for good. The Golden Eagles dented home plate five times in the fifth, with other highlights including an RBI double by junior Kevin Strohschein and RBI single by senior Chase Chambers.
In the eighth, Tech went back to work, scoring three times on a combination of errors and two-run single by junior Alex Junior. The Golden Eagles added three more runs in the ninth for good measure, with two wild pitches and an RBI ground out by sophomore Anthony Carrera providing the damage.
Freshman Brock Myers, junior Zack Wilcox, redshirt freshman Grant Phillips and yes, this is not a typo, the right fielder Strohschein, combined to close out the final three innings of the day for Tech. Myers tossed two in relief, striking out two while scattering a pair of walks.
Strohschein took over in the ninth, taking the hill for the first time in his Golden Eagle career, and offering four pitches before displaying some mild discomfort. Wilcox was brought on to finish off the batter and promptly forced a pair of pop ups. Phillips replaced Wilcox for the final out, striking out his lone opponent on three pitches.
Strohschein led Tech with a 3-for-5 night at the dish, driving in a run and scoring one as well. Hinchman drove in two while scoring three times and drawing three walks to go with his two-run tater. Junior, Harris and Trevor Putzig each recorded multiple RBI on the night while John Ham and David Garza each drew multiple walks.
Altogether, the Golden Eagles actually tallied more walks then hits in the contest, drawing 13 free passes as compared to 12 hits.
Bragga's 400 career victories over his 14-plus seasons ranks second all-time in Tech program history, trailing only TTU Sports Hall of Fame and OVC Hall of Fame inductee David Mays, who compiled 554 wins for the Golden Eagles in 25 seasons from 1974 through 1998. His 400 wins also ranks him 10th all-time in OVC history, sitting just one behind Middle Tennessee's Steve Peterson and two behind Middle Tennessee's John Stanford. It also makes the Golden Eagles the only current OVC program with two coaches in the top-10 in coaching victories in the league's history.
The Golden Eagles will return to Cookeville to open up Ohio Valley Conference play Friday afternoon, beginning a three-game series against UT Martin with a 3 p.m. CT contest. All three games are scheduled to be streamed on the OVC Digital Network.
Photos by Tony Marable