By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Sometimes the third time really is the charm. Such was the case for the Tennessee Tech baseball team Tuesday evening, as the Golden Eagles (14-19) rallied from a two-run deficit in the top of the ninth inning to defeat Ohio Valley Conference and in-state rival Belmont 7-6 in 10 innings.
After the Bruins (19-19) held off two, final-frame comebacks from the purple and gold in Cookeville during the teams' doubleheader in league play this past Sunday, the Tech squad put together an effort to remember at E.S. Rose Park.
With two outs in top of the ninth, first baseman Golston Gillespie hammered a 1-0 offering to left field for a game-tying, two-run home run. The long ball marked the slugger's sixth of the season and knotted the contest at 6-6.
Freshman southpaw Jackson Berry (3-2), who came on for Tech out of the bullpen in the seventh inning, tossed a perfect ninth to take his team into the 10th. Junior left fielder Jason Hinchman reached base on an error and moved over to second on a wild pitch to start the inning.
A sacrifice bunt from Will Long moved Hinchman to third, but Belmont answered with a strikeout to force the focus of the pressure back to the Tech offense. Right fielder Theo Bryant IV stepped right into the box delivered, slapping a searing single to right-center field to drive in Hinchman and give Tech a 7-6 lead.
Having given up just a single run through four, Berry returned to the hill for the purple and gold in the bottom of the 10th, setting the tempo with an immediate strikeout on three pitches to reigning OVC Player of the Week John Behrends. He followed it up by forcing the previous week's OVC Player of the Week, Logan Jarvis, into a ground out to Brett Roberts at second base.
The Bruins tried once more to keep hope alive, gathering a double to right-center field to bring the winning run to the plate. Berry locked in and forced a foul out to Gillespie at first base to secure the win. The Tech hurler finished five innings of relief on the night, allowing just one run on five hits and a pair of walks while striking out five.
Bryant and Gillespie each finished with a pair of hits and two RBI in the contest to lead the Tech offense. Shortstop Ed Johnson also gathered a pair of base knocks while third baseman Gavin Johns crushed his second home run of the year during the fourth inning. Eight different Golden Eagles posted at least one hit.
With the win, Tech won three of its five match-ups with the Bruins on the year, including both tilts that did not have OVC implications. The Golden Eagles will return to the diamond Friday, Apr. 30 for a three-game series at Eastern Kentucky.
File photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information