By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – A pair of early big innings proved too much despite a valiant comeback bid by the Tennessee Tech baseball team Saturday afternoon, as the Golden Eagles fell in game two of its Ohio Valley Conference series against Eastern Illinois Saturday afternoon, 13-12.
The Panthers (10-11, 4-4) turned in five runs in the fourth and six runs in the fifth to provide the brunt of its damage in the ball game. EIU collected 11 of its 12 hits in the game in the first five innings.
Tech (11-11, 2-6) took over all momentum in the bottom of the fifth, scoring the game's final nine runs. The purple and gold actually out-hit the Panthers, 13-12, in the contest.
The Golden Eagles received all of its scoring via the home run, turning in six in the contest. Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the second, Tech took its first lead of the series on the power of a long ball from freshman Jason Hogan.
The right fielder deposited a three-run shot over the wall in left field, just missing the Quillen Field sign. It marked the youngster's third round-tripper of the year.
In the fifth, UCLA transfer Gavin Johns earned his first home run in the purple and gold the hard way. The Golden Eagles' do-it-all utility man (he caught the first five frames and played stellar defense at third base) laced a 2-0 offering to right centerfield.
EIU's center fielder and right fielder both made valiant efforts in trying to catch the ball, but neither could reach it as it one-hopped the ball and bounced away from both. Johns never stopped running, rounding third and sliding just under the tag of the Panther catcher for an inside-the-park home run.
Moving on to the sixth, it was junior Anthony Carrera providing the damage. The left fielder put a charge into a 3-2 pitch, pulverizing a two-run moon shot to right field. It marked his fourth of the season.
Tech got back to crushing baseballs in the eighth, continuing its comeback bid with some more fireworks. Following a one-out walk to sophomore Jason Hinchman, designated hitter John Dyer uncorked a mammoth blast to left field for a two-run dinger, his third of the year.
Carrera took his turn at the plate next and ripped a double to right center field. Eastern Illinois went to its bullpen for some relief, but that hardly mattered to Hogan. The rookie bounced back from two quick strikes to work a full count. He then hammered the next pitch to right center field for his second, jack job of the game.
Still trailing by three headed into the bottom of the ninth, the Tech offense kept battling. With one out in the frame, senior All-American Kevin Strohschein popped a double to shallow right field. Then, on a 2-0 count, Hinchman pulled the Golden Eagles within a run, smashing a laser to left center field for his eighth home run of the season.
Dyer doubled in the next at bat, punching a ball off the center field wall to keep the dream alive. Carrera drew a six-pitch walk to put the winning run at first, but EIU managed a strikeout and fly out to escape with the victory.
Redshirt freshman hurler Daniel Holley stabilized the Golden Eagle pitching staff on the day, entering the contest facing a 13-3 deficit. He proceeded to toss four and third scoreless frames, holding the Panthers to just one hit the rest of the contest while striking out two.
For the game, Hogan led the Golden Eagles with five RBI and two home runs. Hinchman, Dyer and Carrera each tallied multiple RBI with a long ball. Dyer finished 4-for-5 with three runs scored while Carrera notched two hits in three at bats.
Game three of the series is scheduled for a 1:00 p.m. CT first pitch Sunday afternoon at Quillen Field and Bush Stadium at the Averitt Express Baseball Complex.
Photo by Tony Marable