By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The offense was on full display for the Tennessee Tech baseball team Tuesday evening, as the Golden Eagles cruised to a 28-8 victory over Alabama A&M under the lights of Bush Stadium at the Averitt Express Baseball Complex.
The Tech bats crushed eight home runs on the night, tying for the second-most in a single game in program history and the most since setting the single-game mark of 11 early last season. For the night, the Golden Eagles (15-19) racked up 20 hits and nine walks to account for a season-high 28 runs.
Alabama A&M (12-28) was the first on the board in the contest, using a solo home run to take a 1-0 lead in the second inning. It took the Golden Eagles a couple of frames to find their mojo, but when they did, it showed out in full force.
Tech snagged five runs in the third, with catcher Will Long gathering his first collegiate hit to kick off the frame. Shortstop Hunter Higdon gave his squad the lead two batters later, smashing a moon shot to right center for his third home run of the year.
With two outs and a runner on third, the Bulldogs opted to intentionally walk junior Anthony Carrera, bringing freshman John Dyer to the dish. The third baseman made them pay, uncorking a three-run blast to left field for a 5-1 Tech lead.
The Bulldogs answered in the fourth, scoring four times to tie things at five, but Tech delivered the pivotal blow in the bottom half to put the game essentially out of reach.
The Golden Eagles sent 11 runners to the plate in the frame, scoring eight runs to take a commanding 13-5 lead. The inning was highlighted by a three-run long ball off the bat of All-American Kevin Strohshein, a laser down the right field line.
Later in the frame, Dyer created some déjà vu, unleashing his second, three-run bomb of the game to left center field. It brought the rookie's round-tripper total to six on the season. With two outs in the inning, fellow freshman JD Funk took his turn with the slow trot around the bags, crushing a two-run dinger over the scoreboard in right field for his first collegiate long ball.
Tech put an exclamation point on the contest in the fifth, leaving no doubt with six more runs to make it a 19-5 affair. Sophomore slugger Jason Hinchman, the Ohio Valley Conference's home run leader and one of the nation's top-five leaders in the category, provided the brunt of the damage, clearing the wall in right center field for a grand slam. It marked his 16th blast of the season.
Carrera and Dyer turned in back-to-back doubles in the frame, with the latter plating a run. Second baseman Nathan McMeans collected the final RBI of the inning, lacing a single to left field.
The Bulldogs scored three times in the sixth to put a wrap on its offense for the night, but Tech still had some more to give. The purple and gold dented home plate three times in the seventh, using a bases-loaded walk, an error and a ground-ball out to push the tally above 20 for the night.
Then, in the eighth, the Golden Eagles broke out the offense one last time, scoring six times with a few more fireworks. Strohschein led things off by picking up his second double of the contest. Two batters later, he scratched across home plate thanks to a no-doubter to right field off the bat of Carrera. The left fielder's ninth dinger of the year cleared not only the wall, but landed in left field of nearby Tech Softball field.
Just two batters after Carrera, fellow junior Cody Littlejohn copied his teammate's efforts with a solo jack to almost the exact same location on the softball field. Freshman Jack Schad added an RBI single, as did Higdon and Strohschein, who recorded his second hit of the frame.
Dyer led the offensive charge on the night, finishing 4-for-6 with seven RBI and four runs scored. Strohschein also put together a 4-for-6 performance, driving in four and scoring four times. Hinchman drove in four and scored twice while Higdon recorded three RBI and three runs with a 3-for-6 night.
Ten different Golden Eagles recorded hits on the night, while 12 scored at least one run.
Tech will return to action Thursday, Apr. 18 with a trip to Cape Girardeau, Mo. The Golden Eagles will face off in a three-game series with Southeast Missouri in OVC play.
Photo by Tony Marable