By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The offense was back it again for the Tennessee Tech baseball team Sunday afternoon, propelling the Golden Eagles (18-5, 8-1) to a 12-6 victory over Ohio Valley Conference rival Austin Peay (14-11, 5-4) to complete the three-game series sweep.
Tech scored 12 runs on 12 hits to extend its winning streak to nine games and continue to demonstrate itself as one of the nation's top offenses. Heading into the weekend, the Golden Eagles led the country in batting average, slugging percentage, on base percentage, scoring, home runs, hits and a few more categories.
Sunday did nothing to hold back the impressive bats of Tech, as the team pounded out four more home runs to bring its season total over 50. It was junior Kevin Strohschein who started the fireworks for the Golden Eagles, blasting a two-run shot off the batter's eye in center field for a 2-0 lead in the first.
Austin Peay answered, scoring once in the second and three more times in the third to take a 4-2 lead. Junior John Ham cut the deficit in half in the bottom half of the third, smashing his team-leading ninth long ball over the fence in left center field.
The Governors turned in their own solo shot in the fourth to reestablish the two-run advantage, but the Tech offense was not to be silenced on the day.
The Golden Eagles loaded the bases with a hit, hit-by-pitch and walk in the bottom of the fourth, providing senior Trevor Putzig for a chance for some heroics. The third baseman delivered, uncorking a mammoth, no-doubt grand slam to left center field to give his team a 7-5 lead.
Tech plated two more in the fifth to gather some wiggle room with its lead, extending it to 9-5 on a passed ball and a sacrifice fly ball from Putzig. He gathered his sixth RBI of the contest with a fielder's choice in the seventh. Junior Nick Osborne drove in the final two runs for Tech with a dinger to right field.
On the hill, junior Alex Hursey earned his fourth victory of the season after tossing four and one third innings in relief. He held the Govs to a single earned run while scattering seven hits and a pair of walks. The southpaw struck out six APSU batters, but was forced out the game in the seventh after loading the bases with two outs.
Junior closer Ethan Roberts ended the threat immediately, striking out a pinch hitter to take things to the seventh-inning stretch. The Sparta native closed out the final two and one third frames while allowing just a single earned run and fanning two. He picked up his fifth save of the season in the process, needing just two more to tie the program's career record of 22 set by Seth Lucio during the 2014 campaign.
Putzig led the offense on the day, finishing 1-for-3 with two runs scored and six RBI. Strohschein turned in a 3-for-5 day at the plate with a pair of RBI while senior catcher Brennon Kaleiwahea also gathered three hits in four at bats. He scored three runs as well. Alex Junior gathered three of the team's 10 walks in the contest out of the leadoff spot.
Tech will hit the road for its next test on the diamond, visiting Eastern Illinois Thursday, Mar. 29 to kick off another three-game, OVC series. First pitch is slated for a 3 p.m. CT start in Charleston, Ill.
Photo by Tony Marable