By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The bats of the Tennessee Tech baseball team were singing Tuesday afternoon, accounting for 19 hits, 23 RBI and four home runs in a dominant, 23-2 victory at Alabama A&M in Huntsville, Ala.
The offense was quick to act at Bulldog Field, accounting for three runs in the first inning alone. Junior shortstop Jay Meuse reached on an error at first base to kick off the action, advancing all the way to third on the miscue.
Junior third baseman Cody Littlejohn followed with a sacrifice fly to left field for the first run of the game. After a single by senior outfielder Kevin Strohschein, and the first out of the contest on a subsequent ground out, sophomore Jason Hinchman created some fireworks. The slugger hammered his first home run of the season, a two-run shot, to give Tech a 3-0 lead after one.
Tech got back after it in the third, with a Strohschein walk setting up junior outfielder Anthony Carrera for a pair of RBI. The left-handed bat cranked out his own two-run blast, his third on the year, to make it 5-0 in favor of the visitors. An RBI double from redshirt freshman Nathan McMeans and run-scoring single off the bat of freshman catcher Jack Schad put a ribbon on the third, one that showed a 7-0 Tech lead.
The Golden Eagles didn't let up, pounding five more runs across the plate in the fourth, starting with a big one to lead off the frame. Freshman first baseman Jason Hogan connected for his first collegiate long ball for the first run.
Meuse followed with a double to left field and later came home after Strohschein reached on an error by the Alabama A&M shortstop. Later in the frame, McMeans plated two more for the Golden Eagles with a double. Schad made it back-to-back two-baggers, driving in McMeans for a 12-0 advantage.
The Bulldogs got on the board with single runs in the fourth and fifth, but the purple and gold had a response all set for the seventh inning.
Tech saw three of its first four batters reach base, loading the bags for Littlejohn with one out. The junior inked a single in the box score, driving in two Tech runs while setting up Strohschein for more Golden Eagle fireworks.
The All-American demolished the Alabama A&M offering to him, turning in his second home run of the year to drive in three. Tech scored two more runs in the frame, blowing the contest wide open for a 19-2 lead.
In the eighth, freshman John Dyer drove in a run with an RBI single. Sophomore Hunter Higdon got on the board with an RBI double in the ninth. Late in the frame, Strohschein wrapped up the Golden Eagle scoring for the day with a two-run single.
The hit represented yet another chapter rewritten by the McDonough, Ga. native in the Tech record books. Marking the 286th base knock of his career, Strohschein became the Golden Eagle program's all-time hits leader. He finished the contest 4-for-5 with a game-high six RBI, two walks and three runs scored.
McMeans and Littlejohn each posted three RBI while three more Golden Eagles recorded multi-RBI days. Five Tech players earned multi-hit performances and seven scored at least twice in the contest.
Sophomore hurler Grant Phillips earned the victory on the hill for Tech, tossing four complete innings while allowing just four hits and one earned run. He struck out two as well. Jacob Parham covered the fifth inning, surrendering just a lone, unearned run.
Redshirt freshman Daniel Holley took over for the sixth, punching out a pair without allowing a baserunner. Ty King, Zach Wilcox and Jacob Cole combined for the next two innings, totaling just one baserunner allowed and four strikeouts.
Sophomore Tyler Sylvester rounded things out with a scoreless ninth, fanning one without allowing a Bulldog to reach.
Tech will open Ohio Valley Conference play this Friday, Mar. 8 in Cookeville red hot, having won each of its past four contests. The Golden Eagles will square off against SIUE at 6:00 p.m. CT in game one at Bush Stadium at the Averitt Express Baseball Complex.
Photo by Tony Marable