By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The bats were out in full force for the Tennessee Tech baseball team Friday afternoon, propelling the Golden Eagles (13-6, 4-0) to a 13-8 victory over Ohio Valley Conference rival SIUE (10-7, 2-2) at Bush Stadium at the Averitt Express Baseball Complex.
The Tech squad smacked a whopping 10 extra base hits in the contest, including five home runs and five doubles. It marked the second time this season the Golden Eagles hit five of each in a game, roughing up the Bradley pitching staff back on Feb. 24 for six home runs and five doubles.
Led by the bat of senior Matt Jones, the Tech offense scored early and often, eventually blowing the game wide open with seven runs in the fifth inning. Jones finished the contest 2-for-4 with two home runs, two runs scored and a team-high four RBI.
Junior Ryan Flick fell just a triple shy of the cycle for the third time this season, blasting a home run and raking his league-leading 11th double of the season as part of a 3-for-5 showing at the plate. He finished with three RBI and two runs scored.
Senior Chris Brown crushed a solo shot in the game while gathering two hits in four trips to the dish while Collin Harris put a cartoon swing on a ball for his team-best seventh dinger of the season. Harris, as well as junior Trevor Putzig, posted two RBI.
Leadoff man Alex Junior got the offensive explosion started on the day, ripping the fourth pitch of the bottom of the first for one of his two doubles on the day. Flick eventually drove the speedster in with an RBI single for a 1-0 Tech lead.
SIUE, which smacked three home runs of its own, took the only lead it would see in the second with a two-run tater down the right field line. Brown quickly answered to the tie the game with his solo bomb to kick off the bottom half of the second. Two batters later, Jones unleashed his own one-run turkey call to left field to give the Golden Eagles the lead for good.
Twelve Tech batters saw the plate in the fifth inning, turning a modest 6-4 advantage into a commanding 13-4 lead thanks to a two-run tattoo from Flick, three-run jack job from Jones, sac fly from Putzig and RBI double from sophomore Kevin Strohschein.
The Cougars showed fight in the final two frames, gathering three runs in the eighth and a single marker in the ninth before the Tech bullpen put a stop to any further damage.
TTU starter Michael Wood saw mixed results on the day, tossing seven and one third innings of mostly dominant ball. He struck out seven and walked just two while also allowing just five hits. Three of the knocks proved to clear the fence, however, equating to seven earned runs. Wood gathered his team-high fourth victory of the year.
In the ninth, SIUE showed signs of a comeback, putting the first two runners on with back-to-back walks. After Brandon Smith relieved Ty King, the senior right-hander allowed a single that loaded the bases before gathering the home team's first out on a pop up. After a second single allowed a run to cross, head coach Matt Bragga turned to closer Ethan Roberts to shut down the threatening offense of the visitors.
The sophomore came through in dominant fashion, flashing back-to-back strikeouts on just seven pitches for his fourth save of the season.
Tech and SIUE will square off in the second game of the series Saturday afternoon in a 2 p.m. CT tilt at Bush Stadium.
Photo by Tony Marable