By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – A brilliant effort on the hill backed by a steady offensive attack propelled the Tennessee Tech baseball team to its first shutout victory of the season Tuesday evening, an 8-0 win over West Virginia at Bush Stadium at the Averitt Express Baseball Complex.
Making his third start of the season Hursey was nearly infallible on the mound for the Golden Eagles (10-5), keeping the Mountaineers (7-7) at bay for nearly the entire contest. The southpaw allowed just three base runners while completing a career-high eight innings over 108 pitches.
Hursey used a steady dose of swing-and-miss stuff combined with the ability to force fly balls and ground outs to constantly keep the WVU offense guessing. After surrendering a leadoff hit in the second inning, where the base runner reached second on a fielding error, the junior rebounded nicely, racking up back-to-back strikeouts followed by a ground ball out up the middle to senior shortstop David Garza.
West Virginia threatened to score again in the third after Hursey record a pair of quick outs. The Mountaineers rallied with a base hit and a walk, but Tech's leader on the hill forced a fly ball out to escape the inning.
The junior college transfer got into such a groove on the bump, that he retired the final 16 batters he faced. He garnered his second victory of the season while finishing with eight strike outs. Reliever Colton Provey finished off the game, keeping the shutout in tact with a three-pitch punch out to complete the ninth inning.
Offensively, the Golden Eagles made sure to provide Hursey with an early lead, plating a run in the bottom of the second. Senior first baseman Chase Chambers drew a leadoff walk and later scored on a ground out for the eventual winning run.
Chambers doubled the Tech advantage in the fourth, crushing an absolute bomb through the wind and over the fence in right center field to lead off the frame and build a 2-0 lead. In the fifth, the Golden Eagles blew the game wide open with a four-spot.
Three one-out walks in-a-row set up junior Kevin Strohschein for an RBI opportunity; one he capitalized on by beating out a double play attempt for a fielder's choice to second base. His ability to beat the throw kept the inning alive, allowing Chambers to draw his second walk of the game and load the bases again.
Then, down 0-2 in the count, junior second baseman John Ham kept his red-hot play rolling as he ripped a bases-clearing double down the third base line to make it a 6-0 lead in favor of the Golden Eagles. Tech plated two more insurance runs in the sixth, for good measure.
Ham led the way with a 3-for-4 day at the plate and the three RBI just a day after securing his second Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Week honor of the season. Chambers scored three runs on the day while finishing 1-for-2 with his fifth home run of the year. Strohschein tallied two RBI as well.
The Golden Eagles will match-up with the Mountaineers again Wednesday afternoon, facing off in a 1 p.m. CT tilt at Quillen Field.
Photo by Tony Marable