By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
MARTIN, Tenn. – The bats continued to heat up for the Tennessee Tech baseball team Thursday afternoon, as the Golden Eagles (9-5, 1-0) unleashed the offense to the tune of 19 hits in a 14-6, series-opening victory at UT Martin (6-5, 0-1) to kick off Ohio Valley Conference play.
The onslaught began immediately by the visitors to Skyhawk Field, with leadoff man Alex Junior ripping a single to right field on the first pitch of the game. The sophomore promptly stole second and ran all the way the home on the power of an RBI single to left field from Trevor Putzig.
The Skyhawks answered in their own right, with two-run home run to right field, taking a 2-1 lead.
Tech flipped the script in the second, scoring in an almost identical way in the first. Junior David Garza singled to right center field on an 0-2 count and stole second base with Junior at the plate. He then scored on an RBI single to center field by Junior, who also advanced to second base on the throw home.
After stealing third base, Junior dented home plate on a ground out to second base by Putzig to give Tech a 3-2 advantage.
UT Martin tied things once again in the bottom of the second, collecting another long ball, only this time a solo shot down the left field line. The contest wouldn't stay knotted for long.
The Golden Eagles unleashed a hailstorm of offense in the third inning, striking for a staggering nine runs to blow the game wide open. Junior Ryan Flick started the monster frame by working an eight-inning walk to set up fellow junior Chase Chambers for a bang. The first baseman uncorked a booming two-run moonshot to right center field to give his squad the lead for good.
There was still plenty of insurance to be had, however.
Senior Chris Brown singled to center field and junior Collin Harris followed suit with his own single left field. Second baseman Matt Jones littered the outfield with a double down the left field line, driving in both Brown and Harris. Garza then flicked an RBI single to right field, making it a 7-3 contest and chasing Skyhawk starter Jake Patzner from the game.
Still, the Tech offense wasn't done yet. Junior reached safely on a bunt single to first base, setting up Putzig for even more RBI opportunities. The third baseman came through again, connecting for a two-run double to center field. After the Skyhawks finally recorded its first out of the frame, Flick turned the offense back on, clubbing an RBI double to left center and then scoring on a subsequent RBI single from Chambers for the final run of the inning.
Tech snagged solo runs in the fifth and ninth to finalize its total of 14 runs while the Golden Eagle pitching staff scattered three runs over the final six frames to take the first game the of the series.
There was plenty of success up and down the lineup for the Golden Eagles on Thursday, starting with Junior, who tallied a career-high four hits in six trips to the plate. He scored three runs on the day, tying for the team lead. Garza also crossed the plate three times, finishing 3-for-5 at the dish.
Flick captured the most hits for Tech on the day, showing off for a 4-for-5 performance with three RBI and two runs scored. Chambers also boasted three RBI, amassing two hits and a run scored. Putzig led the Golden Eagles with four RBI in the contest, a career-high mark for the junior third baseman who wrapped up the day 2-for-4.
Senior hurler Michael Wood gathered his third victory of the season, tossing five innings and allowing four earned runs on six hits. The right-hander fanned four Skyhawk batters and walked just one before exiting with a comfortable lead heading into the sixth.
Sophomore reliever Nick Osborne completed three innings of work Thursday afternoon, scattering three hits and two runs while striking out two. Senior Brandon Smith completed the final frame for Tech, requiring just nine pitches to set down all three batters he faced.
Games two and three of the series are scheduled for a doubleheader on Friday, starting with a first pitch at 1 p.m. CT.
Photo by Alex Boggis, UT Martin Sports Information