By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – An early lead just wasn't enough for the Tennessee Tech baseball team to pull off an upset of No. 23 nationally ranked Tennessee Tuesday evening, as the Golden Eagles fell at Lindsey Nelson Stadium to the Volunteers in a high-scoring affair, 15-10.
Tech held two separated leads in the contest, beginning with a 1-0 advantage on the third pitch of the ball game. Leadoff man Anthony Carrera took a 1-1 offering deep the other way, lifting a solo home run down the left field line.
The junior left fielder made it a 2-0 advantage in the third, crushing his second solo blast of the game over the video board in right center field. The bomb marked Carrera's 15th of the year and second of the ball game.
The Vols tied things up at 2-2 in the bottom of the third, but Tech returned the favor in the top of the fourth.
Freshman right fielder JD Funk pulverized a three-run shot to left center field with one out, a no-doubter that shot the Golden Eagles back on top with a 5-2 advantage. It marked the sixth round-tripper of the season for the Tech youngster and the team's 86th on the year, propelling the Golden Eagles into the national lead for home runs.
Tennessee tallied a solo run in the fourth to cut into the Tech lead and then took over altogether in the fifth, plating six in the frame for a 9-5 advantage. The purple and gold took one back in the sixth on an RBI single from junior Cody Littlejohn.
Looking to blow the game wide open, the Vols scored four times in the seventh for a 13-6 lead, but the Golden Eagles had one more answer.
With two outs in the eighth and the bases loaded, All-American Strohschein kept Tech alive by ripping a single up the middle to plate a pair. Littlejohn would come around to score the team's third run of the frame on a wild pitch and freshman John Dyer drove in another with an RBI double to right field.
In the bottom half, the Vols collected two final runs for insurance, providing the final score of 15-10.
Four Golden Eagles, including Carrera, Strohschein, Nathan McMeans and Funk collected multiple hits in the contest. Three scored multiple runs and three drove in multiple runs.
Tech will now focus on the final series of the regular season, making a trip to in-state rival UT Martin for a crucial Ohio Valley Conference triple dip in Martin. The Golden Eagles will kick off the series Thursday evening with a 6 p.m. CT tilt.
Currently tied with UT Martin and SIUE for ninth place in the league standings, Tech's OVC Tournament hopes remain intact heading into the final series. The Golden Eagles trail Southeast Missouri by one game for the final spot in the tournament, but do own tiebreakers over both the Redhawks and the Cougars should they become necessary.
Photo by Thomas Corhern