By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Power was certainly surging for the Tennessee Tech baseball team Friday afternoon, as the Golden Eagles (5-0) muscled up for a 13-7 victory over Bradley (2-2) in the three-game series opener at Bush Stadium at the Averitt Express Baseball Complex.
The Tech squad blasted six home runs in the contest, falling just a solo bomb short of the program record of seven smashed at Kentucky in 2014. Three of the barrage of boomers came off the bat of junior Collin Harris, who tied the school record for most home runs in a single game and finished with four RBI. He joined the likes of former All-Americans Daniel Miles (2013) and A.J. Kirby-Jones (2009) as the only players in TTU history with three dingers in one outing.
Returning All-American Kevin Strohschein enjoyed his own taste of success with the stick, hammering two jack jobs of his own as part of a 3-for-5 day at the plate. He scored three runs and drove in two. It marked the third multi-home run contest of the sophomore's young career.
Bradley kick off the scoring early in the contest, snagging an early 2-0 advantage thanks to a two-run shot by Jean-Francois Garon. Strohschein answered in the bottom half of the first with his first of two solo bombzinis.
After holding the Braves scoreless in the next frame, the Tech offense jumped out in front with a three-run inning, using three straight doubles from Ryan Flick, Trevor Putzig and Matt Jones to drive in two. Sophomore Alex Junior followed with an RBI single for the third run.
The Braves tied things up in the third with a couple of runs before the Golden Eagles snagged a solo run from a sacrifice fly ball from Flick to go back in front. Bradley once again answered, evening things at 5-5 in the top of the fourth, but Harris took the opportunity to destroy the first pitch he saw for his first home run of the day.
The Tech pitching staff took over from that point, holding the potent Bradley offense to just two more runs and one earned. On the other side, the Golden Eagles crossed seven more runs across the plate, including two on Harris' second tater of the game in the sixth. The seventh saw an RBI single from Chase Chambers, a two-run boomer from Flick and Harris' third dinger while the eighth represented a single run from Strohschein's second homer.
Senior hurler Michael Wood (1-0) earned his first victory of the season, tossing five innings with six strikeouts and just one walk. Travis Moths came on for three and two thirds innings of relief, fanning six of his own with just a solo walk and one earned run allowed. Freshman Logan Walters gathered his first action of his career, garnering the final out of the game with the bases loaded.
Harris led the Golden Eagles with four RBI and tied with Strohschein with team-highs of three hits and three runs scored. Flick drove in three runs on a 2-for-4 day, scoring twice as well. Jones collected his first hit of the season and finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Chris Brown drew a career-high three walks and a run scored.
With a 5-0 record to start the 2017 season, the Golden Eagles are officially off to their best start since 1970 when the squad started 7-0 and 11-1 overall on its way to a 21-16 mark and first-place finish in the Ohio Valley Conference Eastern Division.
Tech will host the second game of the series against Bradley Saturday afternoon with first pitch set for a 2 p.m. CT start.
Photo by Tony Marable