By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The Tennessee Tech baseball team exploded offensively Tuesday afternoon, denting home plate over and over again to the tune of a season-high 20 runs and 24 hits in a huge victory at UNC Asheville.
The Golden Eagles (16-6) defeated the Bulldogs (8-11) by a score of 20-9, doing the brunt of their damage in a monster, 11-run sixth inning. For the third time this season, Tech smacked five home runs in a game, propelling the offense to its juggernaut performance.
Things got started in the top of the third, when sophomore Alex Junior grounded out to second base to drive in the first run of the game. After a Trevor Putzig single to center field, fellow sophomore Kevin Strohschein blasted a two-run dinger to left center field for a 3-0 Tech lead.
The Golden Eagles doubled the advantage in the fourth, starting with a lead-off solo shot down the left field line. UNC Asheville gathered two outs before Junior singled to set up Putzig with another two-run long ball to left center field, the junior's first of the season.
The Bulldogs provided a small offensive spark in the bottom of the fifth, cutting into the visitor's lead with three runs. Tech had an answer and then some.
A total of 16 Golden Eagle batters saw the plate in the sixth, starting with senior Matt Jones, who single to left field to lead off the frame. Shortstop David Garza followed with a single of his own to left field and, with his blazing speed, Junior beat out a throw from the pitcher for an infield, bunt single to load the bases.
Putzig garnered a bases-loaded walk for an RBI, providing Strohschein for some more heroics. The slugger came through with a two-run single to left field, prompting the team's third pitching change of the game. It didn't faze the Tech attack, however, as junior Ryan Flick ripped his second double of the contest, and Ohio Valley Conference leading 14th of the season, to left center field for two RBI.
Chase Chambers ripped and RBI single to right field, prompting senior Chris Brown to clear the bases with a towering, two-run missile to right field. All of this was done before the first out of the inning was even recorded.
After a ground out, two more Golden Eagle batters reached base, including Jones, who would score on a throwing error on a pickoff attempt at third base. Putzig recorded another RBI with a single to right field while Strohschein smacked a sacrifice fly to left center field for the final RBI of the inning.
Without hesitation, the Tech offense turned a three-run lead into a staggering, 17-3 advantage.
Tech score three more times over the final three frames to reach the 20-run plateau for the first time in 2017, gathering a two-run bomb from Chambers in the eighth inning.
The Bulldogs scored six more runs over the final four innings, but never truly threatened the potent Golden Eagle lineup one time the entire day.
Freshman Devin Lancaster moved to an impressive 3-0 on the year with five innings of work on the hill. The right-hander scattered four hits while allowing one earned run and three runs total. He also struck out four UNCA batters.
Nick Osborne took over for the sixth inning, serving up a solo home run for the only hit allowed in the frame. Jake Rice covered the seventh while allowing just one earned run and two total while Nic Dye finished the eighth and ninth.
Offensively, Strohschein led all Tech batters with five RBI on the day, finishing 3-for-5 from the plate with two runs scored. Flick posted four hits in five at bats, scoring twice and driving in two runs while Putzig tallied four RBI on three hits, not to mention three runs scored.
Chambers cruised to three RBI and two runs scored on a 2-for-5 day while Brown totaled two RBI and a run.
The Golden Eagles will return home to Bush Stadium for a single, midweek contest against Alabama A&M Wednesday evening with first pitch set to begin at 5 p.m. CT.
Photo by Tony Marable