By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – Clutch hitting and some huge insurance runs earned the Tennessee Tech baseball team its first series sweep of the 2018 campaign Sunday afternoon, as the Golden Eagles (14-5, 5-1) claimed an 8-4, Ohio Valley Conference victory at SIUE (5-12, 1-5).
Tech jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third inning, beginning with an RBI double down the left field line off the bat of junior Kevin Strohschein. Senior first baseman Chase Chambers followed up with an RBI ground out to second base, increasing the edge to 2-0. After singling early in the frame, senior Trevor Putzig scored the third run of the frame on a passed ball.
An RBI double down the left field line from Nick Osborne made it a 4-0 Golden Eagle lead in the fourth, but the Cougars were not about to bow out in the contest.
In the bottom of the fifth, SIUE made its comeback bid, scoring off Tech starter Devin Lancaster with an RBI single. After loading the bases, the Cougars took advantage of some early struggles by reliever Ethan Roberts to tie the game at 4-4. Roberts rallied back to strike out the final two batters of the inning and escape further damage.
The Tech offense backed up its pitcher in the sixth, as Osborne lifted a single to center field that eventually led to a David Garza score – after a failed run down attempt by the SIUE defense – for the eventual game-winning run.
The Golden Eagles gathered three important insurance runs in the ninth, highlighted by a leadoff single from Brennon Kaleiwahea and subsequent RBI triple to right center field by Alex Junior. Chambers recorded his second RBI of the game after reaching on a fielding error. Junior also came around to score on the error, flashing his blazing speed to give Tech an 8-4 lead.
Roberts earned the victory out of the bullpen, moving to 2-1 on the season. Junior Ty King proved highly effective in relief, tossing three scoreless innings while holding SIUE to just a single hit. Redshirt freshman Tyler Sylvester completed the final frame for Tech, striking out the final batter to clinch the sweep.
Strohschein boasted a strong offensive performance, finishing 2-for-3 with an RBI, a run scored and two walks.
Tech will return to action Tuesday, Mar. 20, playing host to Alabama A&M in a 6 p.m. CT contest at Bush Stadium at the Averitt Express Baseball Complex. The Golden Eagles will then play a neutral-site contest against Western Carolina in the home of the Tennessee Smokies, Smokies Stadium, on Wednesday at 3 p.m. CT.
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information