By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
MARTIN, Tenn. – It was a doubleheader split for the Tennessee Tech baseball team Saturday, as the Golden Eagles (19-24, 12-15) erupted for a 15-9 victory in the second of two games against UT Martin (17-27, 9-15) at Skyhawk Field to close out the teams' Ohio Valley Conference series.
After the Skyhawks claimed the first contest of the day, 7-4, the purple and gold looked to leave no doubt about leaving Martin with a victory. It started in the third inning, with shortstop Ed Johnson kicking things off by scoring on a passed ball.
Senior Cody Littlejohn made it a 3-0 lead for the Tech squad, lacing a two-run double to left-center field. UT Martin was quick to respond to the Golden Eagle attack, at least initially, plating the tying three runs in the bottom half of the frame.
Unfazed, Tech opened the fourth with six consecutive hits, including quick singles from right fielder Owen Kiess and Johnson. Next up, second baseman Brett Roberts splashed a double to left field, driving in both runners for a 5-3 lead.
Following a Skyhawk pitching change, first baseman Golston Gillespie kept the offense flowing with a base knock to right field for an RBI. Left fielder Jason Hinchman also singled, blistering one through the left side. Littlejohn made it a 7-3 Tech advantage, following his teammate with his own hit through the left side for an RBI.
The purple and gold went back to work in the fifth, with Littlejohn ad the lead again. The designated hitter drew a bases-loaded walk to kick off the scoring. Gillespie came home safely on a wild pitch, flipping the scoreboard to a 9-6 lead. Catcher Hayden Gilliland turned in another pair of RBI for his team, peppering a double to left-center field.
Martin took its turn adding to the scoreboard, attempting to mount a comeback with six straight runs over the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. With the lead trimmed to 11-9, the Golden Eagles went back to work.
Leading off the eighth, Gilliland blasted a solo jack to right-center field for his second round-tripper of the year. The three runs of breathing room would have been plenty for the Tech bullpen to work with, but the purple and gold still had one more inning of at-bats to work with.
Another Skyhawk wild pitch allowed Roberts to dent the dish in the ninth. Gilliland followed with an RBI single through the right side. Wrapping up the frame with the team's 15th marker of the contest, center fielder Tynan Shahidi singled to second base for his own RBI.
Every member of the Tech lineup produced at least one hit in the game, with seven scoring at least once. Roberts led the way with four hits and four runs scored, plating a pair for good measure. Littlejohn and Gilliland each drove in four runs on the power of three hits. Shahidi chipped in three hits of his own as well.
Junior Brock Myers picked up the win with two-and-one-third innings of work out of the bullpen, allowing just a single, unearned run on two hits. Senior Mark Leonard earned his first save of the season, finishing the final five outs of the contest with a trio of punch-outs and no baserunners allowed.
In the first contest of the day, the Skyhawks took an early 2-0 advantage over the first three innings. Gillespie cut into that deficit in the fourth, hammering a solo bomb to right field. The long ball marked his 10th of the year, the second Golden Eagle to reach the double-digit mark for dingers.
Third baseman Gabe Lacy tied things up in the fifth with a solo rainbow of his own, the third of his season. Martin scored twice in the sixth to break the tie and three more times in the seventh to take a commanding 7-2 advantage, but Tech gave it one more push in the eighth.
Roberts delivered an RBI single through the left side to give his team a lift. Johnson followed by scoring on a wild pitch, cutting the Skyhawk lead to three before the home squad closed things out.
Next on the docket for the Golden Eagles is a trip to Lexington for the team's final midweek match-up of the year with Kentucky. First pitch is slated for 5:30 p.m. CT on Tuesday, May 18.
File photo by Rob Schabert