By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
RICHMOND, Ky. – A magical inning was all the Tennessee Tech baseball team needed to take its Ohio Valley Conference series opener at Eastern Kentucky Friday evening, cruising to a 13-8 victory in Richmond, Ky.
The Golden Eagles (19-25, 7-15) exploded in the third inning, scoring a whopping 12 runs on 10 hits to come back from a 2-0 deficit to all but put the game away early.
Redshirt freshman Nathan McMeans led off the frame with a single to center field and was followed by a base hit to right field off the bat of junior Anthony Carrera. All-American Kevin Strohschein took another swing towards history while providing the go-ahead run, blasting a three-run bomb to right center field.
The long ball marked his 12th of the year and 59th of his career while providing the purple and gold with a 3-2 lead. With the dinger, Strohschein now sits just four away from breaking the OVC's all-time career record currently held by former Golden Eagle Zach Stephens (62).
Freshman John Dyer drew a walk to keep the inning running and sophomore Jason Hinchman followed with a single to left field. After junior Gavin Johns reached on a fielding error, freshman JD Funk ripped a double down the left field line to drive in a pair.
EKU (24-22, 10-12) was finally able to record its first out of the frame, but shortstop Hunter Higdon got the Golden Eagles back on track with an RBI single to right field to make it a 6-2 game. McMeans then singled to third base to set up Carrera for an RBI single to right field.
Strohschein drove in another run with a sacrifice fly to center field, but it was Dyer who then delivered the whopping blow to the scoreboard. The rookie slugger crushed his ninth round tripper of the season to left field, a 3-run shot that turn it into an 11-2 advantage.
To cap off the frame, Johns slipped a double down the left field line to drive in one more run and complete a 12-run inning. The Colonels would go on to score four more times prior to the ninth, closing to within 12-6.
In their final go around with the sticks, the Golden Eagles got one more ticker on the board, courtesy of freshman backstop Will Long. The rookie catcher uncorked a monster, solo jack to left center field, his first collegiate home run.
The Colonels scored twice more in the ninth, but it was too little, too late.
In the contest, Strohschein paced the Golden Eagle offense with a 3-for-4 showing and four RBI. Dyer was 1-for-2 with two runs scored, three RBI and three walks while McMeans, Carrera, Hinchman, Johns and Funk each tallied multiple hits.
Senior southpaw Andrew O'Dwyer picked up his second victory of the season after completing six innings with seven strikeouts and no walks. He surrendered six runs on nine hits while helping save the Tech bullpen. Right-hander Grant Phillips earned his first save of the year after completing the final three innings with just two runs allowed and two punch outs.
Due to inclement weather expected in the Richmond area, tomorrow's game has been moved to a 10 a.m. CT first pitch and the ESPN+ broadcast has been cancelled. With inclement weather a possibility in the area throughout the weekend, fans are encouraged to check social media and the TTUSports.com website for updates concerning this weekend's schedule.
Photo by Thomas Corhern