By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Pitching and timely scoring proved key for the Tennessee Tech baseball team Saturday, as the Golden Eagles swept a doubleheader over Toledo by final scores of 10-2 and 10-0 at Bush Stadium at the Averitt Express Baseball Complex.
With Saturday's original start times backed up two hours due to the rain, the Golden Eagles (3-0) turned to senior hurler Jake Usher to guide the team to a hot start. The right-hander delivered.
Toledo jumped on the board first, with Dalton Bollinger smashing a solo home run to left field. Usher was unconscious from that point on, closing the final four innings of his day without allowing a base runner. He tossed six innings while allowing just two hits and a single run, dominating with seven strikeouts and zero walks.
Freshman Jake Rice and Travis Moths finished the way from the bullpen, with Rice making his Golden Eagle debut with two thirds of an inning pitched and just one unearned run allowed. Moths finished the final two and one thirds innings, scattering two hits and fanning four.
Tech's offense didn't take long to respond, with Trevor Putzig tying the contest in the bottom of the second with an RBI double to left center field. The next inning, the Golden Eagles took advantage of some Toledo miscues, staring with a hit-by-pitch delivered to Alex Junior to lead off the frame.
After the first out, a passed ball allowed Junior to advance a base. Kevin Strohschein struck out swinging next, but reached on a second passed ball, which enabled Junior to move to third. Chris Brown smacked a long shot to right field, gathering a sac fly for the go-ahead run. Chase Chambers followed, uncorking a two-run dinger to right center field, his second long ball of the season.
Both sides traded zeroes until the sixth, when Tech added some insurance with a two-run single off the bat of Strohschein and an RBI single from Brown. Toledo's second run of the game, in the top of the seventh, was answered immediately by Tech newcomer Collin Harris.
The team's leading hitter through three games, Harris hammered his first career moonshot, a three-run jack job, to left field after fighting off five consecutive and seven total foul balls.
The law firm of Strohschein, Chambers and Brown added another litigator to the mix in game one of the day in Harris. The first three Golden Eagle lawyers posted two RBI apiece. Harris added three more with a team-high three hits.
Game two once again saw a Golden Eagle pitcher take to the spotlight, this time a rookie. Freshman Devin Lancaster (pictured above) turned in one of the better debuts by a Tech hurler in recent memory, completing six innings of shutout baseball with six strikeouts. The right-hander scattered three hits and two walks throughout the game, holding the Rockets' offense in check all night.
Senior reliever Kit Fowler took over for the final three frames, coasting to his first save of the season while holding the Rockets to just one base runner. He allowed no hits and just a single walk while striking out three.
The 10-0 victory marked Tech's first shutout win since March 14, 2015, a complete-game, one-hit performance by then-senior ace Chris Chism.
The Golden Eagle offense struck in the second inning thanks to a few more Toledo mistakes, scoring two unearned runs. Ryan Flick started with an RBI groundout before a passed ball allowed a second run to cross.
In the fourth, Flick came through again, crushing an RBI double off the top of the wall in left center field. Again in the sixth, Tech took advantage of a Toledo error, with Flick scoring from second base on a ball that snuck through the infield and into the left center field gap.
Tech put an exclamation point on the contest in the seventh, plating two behind back-to-back RBI singles from David Garza and Strohschein. Brown then finished the inning and essentially locked the game down for good with a 3-run missile to right center field, his first of the year.
Game four of the three-day series between Tech and Toledo is set for completion Sunday afternoon with a 1 p.m. CT first pitch.
Photo by Jordan Ratti, TTU Video Production