By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
OXFORD, Ala. – There will be a winner-take-all match-up for the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament title Sunday afternoon, as the No. 18 Tennessee Tech baseball team (48-8) fell to Morehead State (36-24) at Choccolocco Park Saturday evening, 11-6.
The Eagle offense used five consecutive innings of scoring to gather an 11-3 lead, but the Golden Eagles would not go down quietly.
Redshirt freshman Grant Phillips was brilliant out of the bullpen, tossing four shutout innings without allowing a hit and walking just one. His incredible performance provided Tech the outlet to make things quite interesting down the stretch.
Still trailing 11-3 in the bottom of the eighth, the Golden Eagle offense made its move. Junior Kevin Strohschein led off the frame with a single to center field. Senior Chase Chambers followed with a fielder's choice to second base, replacing Strohschein on the base paths.
John Ham made it two base runners for Tech with a single to right center field, both advancing a spot following a wild pitch. Senior David Garza brought in a run with an RBI ground out to third base, making it an 11-4 game. Junior Nick Osborne followed with an RBI single through the left side to cut the deficit to 11-5.
Trailing by six in the bottom of the ninth, senior Trevor Putzig went yard with his 15th home run of the season with one out, blasting a solo shot to left center field to make it 11-6. Back-to-back singles from Strohschein and Chambers gave the offense more life, but things became very interesting following a five-pitch walk to Ham.
Morehead State turned to Dalton Stambaugh with the bases loaded for the Golden Eagles, and the starter came through for the No. 3 seed, striking out two batters to close out the contest and end the threat.
Alex Hursey (7-4) was dealt the loss on the day, tossing four innings while allowing five runs, four earned, on five hits and three walks. He also punched out a pair.
Strohschein finished the contest 3-for-5 while hammering his 18th long ball of the season to left field. Osborne gathered two hits in four at bats, also connecting for a dinger, his 10th of the year. With his 10th home run, he became the seventh different Golden Eagle to reach the double-digit mark on the year.
Putzig's solo blast in the ninth inning represented Tech's 127th round-tripper of the season, tying the OVC's single-season record set back in 2002 by Morehead State.
The two teams will square off one more time to decide the 2018 OVC Tournament champion on Sunday at 12:00 p.m. CT at Choccolocco Park. Tech will represent the home team again by virtue of its No. 1 seeding. Fans can follow the action live on the OVC Digital Network or on 106.1 The Eagle.
Photo by Thomas Corhern