By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The No. 20 ranked Tennessee Tech baseball team ran its record-breaking winning streak to a nation's best 28 games Saturday afternoon, using a brilliant performance on the mound and some timely hitting to defeat Southeast Missouri, 6-2.
The Golden Eagles (37-5, 19-1) took down their Ohio Valley Conference rival behind a gem from junior hurler Marcus Evey. The right-hander kept the Redhawks (20-23, 14-9) at bay for nearly the entire game, tossing seven frames with just five hits and an earned run allowed.
Evey moved to a perfect 6-0 on the season, striking out eight batters while walking just one in his latest performance on the hill. SEMO scored early in the contest, with Trevor Ezell lacing an RBI double to left center field in the top of the first.
That the was most the Redhawks could muster off the junior starter, as he scattered baserunners across the next six frames while allowing the Golden Eagle offense to go to work.
While Tech was held without a home run for just the eighth time this season and without an extra base hit for just the third time, the bats still pounded out 13 hits in the contest, combatting blistery winds blowing in from centerfield all day.
It took a few innings, but the Golden Eagles found their groove in the third. Senior Collin Harris continued his incredible start to the series, singling off the first base bag to lead off the frame as part of a 3-for-4 day at the plate with three runs scored. Harris was 2-for-2 with a three-run home run in Friday night's win.
Center fielder Alex Junior followed Harris with a single to left field, setting up senior Trevor Putzig for an excellent chance at moving the runners. The third baseman kept the momentum rolling, ripping an RBI single through the right side to drive in Harris for the tying run.
With runners on first and second again, junior Kevin Strohschein loaded the bags after singling to the shortstop. Senior Chase Chambers then gave Tech the lead for good, smashing a line drive to right field for a sacrifice fly.
Harris flashed the wheels again in the fourth, scoring from second base on a throwing error by the SEMO second baseman. In the fifth, Tech made it a four-run lead on the power of a bases-loaded, two-run single up the middle by senior David Garza.
One more time, in the eighth, Harris' speed paid off for the Golden Eagles. Sitting at second base, the senior took off as the Southeast Missouri hurler overthrew an attempted intentional-walk pitch to Strohschein. The ball sailed over the catcher's leaping attempt and took a wacky hop off the wall behind the plate. Harris rounded third and slid in safely at the plate for the sixth run of the game.
Sophomore Seth Noel took over on the hill for the Golden Eagles in the eighth, inning, tossing a scoreless frame. He then recorded two outs in the top of the ninth before the Redhawks mounted a rally attempt. SEMO snagged an RBI single to center field, making it a 6-2 game with the tying run on deck.
Head coach Matt Bragga turned to redshirt freshman Tyler Sylvester to give the SEMO batters a different look. After walking the first batter on four pitches to load the bases, the rookie settled in and forced a lazy ground ball out to Chambers at first base to end the game. He picked up his third save of the season with the out.
Tech will look to complete the series sweep against the Redhawks on Sunday with a 1 p.m. CT first pitch at Bush Stadium at the Averitt Express Baseball Complex.
Photo by Tony Marable