By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The 2018 season started off with a bang for the Tennessee Tech baseball team, as the Golden Eagles earned a 7-3 victory over Little Rock in the season opener Friday afternoon.
The Trojans jumped on the scoreboard first, plating two runs in the top of the first off of senior starter Travis Moths. The right-handed pitcher recovered quickly and shut down the Little Rock offense through the sixth inning.
Tech's defense backed up the veteran's outing, turning double plays in the second and fourth inning to help end a couple of scoring threats. A leadoff triple in the third by the Trojans offered another threat, but Moths shut the door quickly, striking out the side to end the inning.
Moths also struck out the side in the sixth frame, finishing the contest with eight over six innings while allowing just two earned runs to earn the victory.
Senior shortstop David Garza was the first Golden Eagle to dent the scoreboard of the new season, smashing a solo shot to left field on an 0-2 count in the bottom of the first to cut the deficit in half.
Two innings later, the Tech offense went to work again, plating five in the frame to jump out ahead for good. Garza led off the frame with an infield single down the third base line. Fellow senior Trevor Putzig was plunked with a pitch to put two on with no outs.
Little Rock managed to record two outs before the Golden Eagles returned to their offensive ways. Junior college transfer John Ham recorded his first hit in a Tech uniform, crushing a three-run bomb to left field for a 4-2 lead.
A single by senior Colling Harris set up freshman Jason Hinchman for his first career hit and RBI. The rookie ripped a double to left field, bringing the speedy Harris all the way around from first base. Catcher Brennon Kaleiwahea continued the run, singling to center field to give Tech a 6-2 lead.
Junior right-hander Marcus Evey took over on the hill for Moths, tossing two and two thirds innings. All eight of his outs came via the strikeout, including punching out the side in both the seventh and eighth frames.
The Golden Eagles snagged an insurance run in the sixth while the Trojans put one across in the ninth. Tech turned to junior reliever Zack Wilcox for the final out of the contest, and the right-hander earned the save with the tying run on deck. He forced a groundout that he fielded himself, tossing it to Chase Chambers for the final out.
Ham led the Tech offense with three RBI and a 2-for-4 showing at the plate. Nine out of 10 Tech batters gathered at least one hit in the contest, with five of those players posting multiple hits.
Tech is scheduled to face off with the Trojans again on Saturday in a 2 p.m. CT scheduled game. With impending weather expected in the area, fans are encouraged to check social media throughout the weekend for updates on potential changes to the schedule.
Photo by Tony Marable