Stephens paces Golden Eagles to series sweep of UT Martin, 11th straight

Stephens paces Golden Eagles to series sweep of UT Martin, 11th straight

MARTIN, Tenn. - Even trailing for the first time in five games couldn't break the focus that has consumed the Tennessee Tech baseball team (18-6, 8-1), as the Golden Eagles used big hits and a fantastic relief appearance to win a rain-shortened Ohio Valley Conference game over UT Martin (8-16, 1-8) for their 11th consecutive victory Sunday afternoon. The streak, which is the second longest in program history, is currently tied for the longest in the nation with the Big Ten's Indiana Hoosiers.

With the win over the Skyhawks, Tech earned its second consecutive series sweep over an OVC opponent, improving its league-best record to 8-1.

Sunday's contest was a very back-and-forth affair, featuring three lead changes and two ties before the Golden Eagles finally pulled away in the sixth inning for an 8-5 win.

UTM first baseman Wade Collins and designated hitter Luis Paublini each recorded two RBI in the contest, combining for three hits and a run scored. But as the Golden Eagles offense has proven many times during their winning streak, it just wasn't enough.

Zach Zarzour and Zach Stephens paced the Tech bats in the contest, jumping the Golden Eagles out to an early 2-0 lead. Zarzour launched his first home run of the season on the second pitch of the game, driving the ball over the right field wall. Two batters later, Stephens followed suit, blasting a bomb to right field for his sixth dinger of the year.

The Skyhawks answered quickly, evening things at 2-2 in the bottom half of the first. The score remained that way for the next two and half innings, as both starting pitchers, Jacob Honea for TTU and Dalton Potts for UTM, cruised. Martin then managed to grab its first lead of the series off an RBI single by Ben Brewer.

It didn't last long as Zarzour and Stephens combined for greatness again. After a quick out in the top of the fifth, Zarzour singled to center field, one of his three hits in three at-bats in the contest. Austin Wulf reached on a error by the Skyhawk second baseman moving Zarzour to third and bringing Stephens to the plate with a chance for greatness.

The slugger delivered, mashing his second long ball of the contest over the right-center field wall and giving the Golden Eagles a 5-3 advantage. It marked the third time in the junior's career that he had multiple home runs in a contest.

Once again UT Martin would not give in, tying the contest with two runs in the bottom of the fifth with a two-run single by Collins.

Resiliant as ever, Tech answered back, using an RBI double by Zephan Guyear in the top of the sixth to take the lead for good. They tallied two more runs in the inning for good measure, taking an 8-5 lead into the bottom of the sixth.

Junior Stanton Taylor, who entered the contest with one out in the bottom of the fifth, was lights out in relief for the Golden Eagles. after forcing the first batter he faced to fly out, he forced the next Skyhawk player to go down swinging. Things just got sweeter in the sixth, as the right hander struck out the side, all swinging, to ice what would turn out to be his first career win as a Golden Eagle.

Due to poor weather conditions, the contest was called in the top of the 7th inning, giving Tech its 11th straight win.

The Golden Eagles continue their road trip on Tuesday, March 26 when they travel to Knoxville to take on the University of Tennessee. Tech will look to repeat last year's result in the 6 p.m. CDT contest, a 5-1 victory over the SEC foe.