Key home runs help Golden Eagles shut down Georgia State, earn split with 6-4 win

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Sophomore Chad Oberacker’s solo home run in the bottom of the sixth could not have come at a better time. The bomb, which gave Tech a 5-4 lead, helped the Golden Eagles beat Georgia State 6-4, and improve to 16-0 when leading after the sixth inning this season.

Senior pitcher Ryan Dennick also gave the Golden Eagles (19-16, 5-8) a boost Wednesday, as he pitched the final 3.2 innings against the Panthers(26-15), striking out five batters and allowing just two hits, in his second save of the year.

Freshman Matthew Shepherd was the winning pitcher for Tech, as he got the start and went 5.1 innings, giving up just one earned run and four hits, as the Golden Eagles won the second game of the two-game series with GSU to get the split. The two pitchers combined for only one walk in the game.

“We got two really good pitching performances, one from a freshman, and one from a senior,” head coach Matt Bragga said.

After Georgia State took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on an error and a two sacrifice bunts, the Golden Eagles responded with a big four-run third inning. After a pair of walks, Tech had two on with one out. Alex Henry hit a single, and an error in the outfield helped him advance to second as Heath Cheverton crossed home plate to tie the game at one.

A sacrifice fly by Chad Oberacker put Tech up 2-1, and set the table for sophomore A.J. Kirby-Jones to hit his 13th homer of the season putting the Golden Eagles up 4-1, as he climbed to fifth in single-season home runs in Tech history.

“The third was a great inning for us. A.J. stayed on a breaking ball really well, and was able to put it over the fence in right field,” Bragga said.

The Panthers wouldn’t go away without a fight though, as they chipped away at the lead with a run in the fourth, and two in the sixth, to make it 4-4 heading into the bottom of the sixth.

But Oberackers home run in the sixth, along with singles from Evan Webb, Chad Hayes and Alex Henry in the seventh gave Tech its deciding 6-4 advantage.

Henry finished the day going 2-for-4 from the plate, and added an RBI and a run scored. Oberacker and Kirby-Jones each had two RBIs, and Hayes scored twice.

The Golden Eagles remain at home this weekend, as they welcome Ohio Valley Conference foe UT Martin for a three-game series April 25 and 26. A double header will begin a 1 p.m. Saturday, along with a single game on Sunday at 1 p.m. The forecast calls for warm weather and clear skies over the weekend, and admission to all Tech home baseball games is free of charge.

“It’ll be a great weekend, it’ll be really fun. UT Martin always plays really hard, they’re a great club, so it will be a lot of fun for our guys,” Bragga said.