By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – With offense serving as the dominant theme on Friday and Saturday, the tide turned to favor the Tennessee Tech pitching staff Sunday afternoon, as the Golden Eagles (15-6, 6-0) sealed a three-game series sweep over Ohio Valley Conference rival SIUE (10-9, 2-4) in a pitcher's duel, 3-2.
With the win, the Golden Eagles remained the only team in the OVC undefeated in league play, boasting a 6-0 mark thanks to series sweeps over UT Martin and now the Cougars. It marks the program's best start to conference play since the 1956 Tech squad started 9-0 and finished 10-1 in the OVC while winning the league and earning a trip to the NCAA District III Playoffs.
Sunday starter Chase Burkett provided the home squad with a very solid performance, holding a potent Cougar offense to just two earned runs over five and two thirds innings. He scattered six hits and one walk while striking out two and using the brilliant play of the Tech defense to subdue the visiting offense.
The Golden Eagles snagged an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, with junior Ryan Flick providing the charge. The team's designated hitter drove in Trevor Putzig with his league-leading 12th double of the season.
Tech added two more runs in the bottom of the fourth, taking advantage of a couple of SIUE miscues in the process. After Flick opened the frame by reaching on a throwing error, and moved to second on a walk and third on a fly ball, Collin Harris drove him in, reaching on a fielder's choice that drove in Flick.
Burkett's mastery of the lineup met a couple of challenges in the sixth, as SIUE posted two solo home runs in the sixth. A double following the second long ball ended the night for Burkett, who earned his third victory of the season, as sophomore Ethan Roberts came on for his second save attempt of the weekend.
The right-hander was purely dominant, allowing just one walk in three and one third innings and holding the Cougars hitless for the remainder of the contest. Roberts fanned three while continuing the trend, set by Burkett, of allowing his stellar defense take care of business all around the diamond. He earned his fifth save of the year with the outing.
The Golden Eagles will take a brief respite from the field before returning to action on Tuesday, Mar. 21 with a single road contest at UNC Asheville at 3 p.m. CT.
Photo by Tony Marable