By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – It was a roller coaster of a game, but by the end of it all the Tennessee Tech baseball came out on top. The Golden Eagles (6-1) outslugged Bradley (3-3) in a barn burner Sunday afternoon, taking the weekend series 2-1 with a 16-14 victory at Bush Stadium at the Averitt Express Baseball Complex.
The two sides waged war back-and-forth all day, with Bradley doing exactly what it did each time before in the series, taking a 2-0 lead to start the scoring. Tech quickly answered in the bottom half of the second, with Matt Jones lacing an RBI single to right center field. Junior Collin Harris followed, blasting his team-leading fifth home run of the season, a two-run shot to right field to give the Golden Eagles a 3-2 lead.
Bradley answered back in the third, gathering a second two-run home run for a 4-3 advantage. It didn't last long, however, as it took just five pitches for the Tech offense to retaliate. Kevin Strohschein led off the frame with a double to left center and, just three pitches later, Ryan Flick drove him in with an RBI single to right center field.
The Braves flashed single runs across the plate in both the fourth and fifth frames to capture a 6-4 lead, but the Golden Eagles offense channeled its historical past to conjure up a monster sixth inning. Junior Chase Chambers led an eight-run Tech barrage, hammering a lead-off solo home run for the opening salvo.
Chris Brown single to left field to keep the pressure on and Trevor Putzig fired his own single through the left side right after. Both runners advanced a base on a wild pitch, setting up Jones for an easy two-run single through the left side to retake the lead.
TTU was far from done, however. With a new pitcher on the hill, the Golden Eagles took no exception. Harris reached on a fielder's choice to second base, beating out the potential double play throw from second. He then stole second, setting up Alex Junior for an RBI single up the middle.
David Garza got plunked on the first pitch he saw, adding to the baserunners. Bradley managed a second out before walking Flick to load the bases, forcing a second pitching change in the inning. It wouldn't last long, however, as both Chambers and Brown would be hit by the first pitches they saw, leading to two more Tech runs.
Another pitching change didn't' matter to the Golden Eagles, as Putzig gathered his second hit of the frame with a two-run single to center field to equal Tech's eight runs for the frame.
And still it wasn't enough. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Chambers took one might swing and again obliterated the ball. He smashed a three-run long ball to right center field for his second dinger of the contest to give Tech a 15-6 lead.
Bradley made a run at a comeback, scoring six times in the top of the eighth using a patient approach at the plate to draw three bases-loaded-walks and score a total of six runs in the top of the eighth. Quickly, the lead was 15-12 for Tech.
The Golden Eagles snagged one insurance run in the bottom of the eighth, an RBI fielder's choice off the bat of freshman Anthony Carrera. Bradley did manage two unearned runs in the ninth, but redshirt freshman Seth Noel hung on to give Tech the victory.
Noel earned his first career win in his first career appearance, tossing one and one third innings of work while allowing just one hit and a walk. He fanned two as well.
Chambers led the Tech offense on the day, scoring three runs and driving in five in four at bats. Jones tallied four hits in five at bats, posting three RBI and a run scored. Junior totaled three hits on the day while Putzig also managed a multi-hit performance.
Tech is scheduled to host Central Arkansas in midweek play starting Tuesday with a 6 p.m. CT first pitch. A second game is also scheduled for Wednesday afternoon at 3 p.m. Fans are encouraged to check social media and the TTUSports.com website for updates concerning this week's schedule.
Photo by Jim Dillon