By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – For the second consecutive game, pitching took center stage for the Tennessee Tech baseball team Sunday afternoon, as the Golden Eagles completed a four-game series sweep of Toledo with their second straight shutout, a 2-0 win at Bush Stadium at the Averitt Express Baseball Complex.
After Saturday evening's masterful performance from rookie Devin Lancaster, it was a veteran's turn to dominate the hill. Senior Chase Burkett took the role without blinking, tossing seven scoreless innings and scattering four hits and a walk. He posted three strikeouts while holding the Rocket hitters off balance throughout a tight ball game.
Burkett was perfect through the first three innings before allowing his first hit of the contest in the top of the fourth. For Toledo, starter Layne Schnitz-Paxton did not allow a hit through the first three innings as well, eventually surrendering his first in the bottom of the fourth to Ryan Flick. Junior Trevor Putzig followed with a second base knock and both runners advanced a base on a wild pitch to Matt Jones.
Jones then drove in the first run of the game with an RBI ground out to second base. From that point on, Burkett continued to cruise, grilling the Toledo order inning after inning.
Junior David Garza, who celebrated his 22nd birthday, added a much-needed insurance run in the bottom of the seventh frame. The Tech shortstop ripped an RBI single off the glove of the second baseman, scoring Putzig for a 2-0 Golden Eagle lead.
With the game still tight, Tech turned to closer Ethan Roberts for the final six outs. The sophomore did not disappoint, fanning two and allowing no hits and no walks for his second save of the young season.
Leadoff hitter Alex Junior reached base three times in the contest thanks to three free passes while Putzig led the team offensively with two hits in three trips to the plate.
Sunday marked the first time a Golden Eagle squad posted back-to-back shutouts since the 2013 Ohio Valley Conference championship team collected two 1-0 victories in the middle of its nation-leading 14-game winning streak. Tech would go on to set a program record of 40 wins and a conference record of 24 victories that season.
Tech will remain in Bush Stadium for a three-game weekend series against Bradley starting Feb. 24. First pitch is set for a 3 p.m. CT start on Friday with games to follow at 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.
Photo by Tony Marable