By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
TROY, Ala. – A seesaw battle at Riddle-Pace Field ended in favor of Troy Sunday afternoon, as the Tennessee Tech baseball team (6-4) fell to the Trojans (7-5) in the series finale, 13-12.
The Golden Eagles rallied on two separate occasions on the day, falling behind as much as 6-1 after five innings. A sacrifice fly by David Garza in the sixth made it a four-run deficit, but Tech still had plenty of work to do with just three innings to go.
In the seventh, things clicked for the Tech offense. Senior Brennon Kaleiwahea started with a leadoff walk and found himself at third base after back-to-back singles from Alex Junior and Trevor Putzig.
Junior Kevin Strohschein drew his own walk to drive in a run and senior Chase Chambers followed with an RBI single through the right side to cut the deficit to just two with the bases loaded and no outs. Troy made a pitching change, handing the ball to Corey Childress. The Trojan hurler fanned the first two batters he faced, needing just one out to escape the huge inning.
Cody Littlejohn walked into the batter's box as a pinch hitter, and worked a fantastic at bat, eventually drawing a seven-pitch walk to drive in another Golden Eagle run. Then Nick Osborne uncorked the big one, blasting a 1-0 offering that cleared the wall in left field for a grand slam and a 9-6 Tech lead.
Not finished, Kaleiwahea drew another walk, setting up Junior for an RBI double down the right field line. The hit drove Tech's lead up to 10-6 with two and a half innings to play.
Troy answered in the bottom half, plating six runs of its own, including a game-tying, three-run home run. The Trojans took back over, leading 12-10 headed into the eighth.
Once again, the Golden Eagles made a comeback, gathering an RBI single in the top half of the frame from Garza. With the bases loaded and one out, Troy seemingly gathered an easy second out, forcing Osborne to pop up into foul territory down the first base line.
John Ham made a heads-up, base running decision, however, tagging after seeing the first baseman react late after making the catch and sliding in safe at the plate to tie the game at 12-12.
Troy gathered the lead once more, this time for good, after a tough call at third base in the bottom of the eighth. The Trojans laid down a sacrifice bunt with two on and no outs. Tech pitcher Alex Hursey corralled the ball and tossed the ball to third base attempting to force out the runner.
The runner was ruled safe and Tech's throw to first attempting to get the batter bounced away for an error, allowing the runner at third to cross the plate.
Osborne led the Golden Eagles with five RBI and the grand slam. Junior and Chambers each finished 3-for-5, with Chambers scoring three runs and Junior driving in two. Garza tallied two RBI as well, finishing 2-for-4.
Tech will continue its road swing Tuesday afternoon, making a return trip to Lipscomb for a 4 p.m. CT contest in Nashville.
Photo by Tony Marable