By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
LEXINGTON, Ky. – An early lead wasn't enough for the Tennessee Tech baseball team in Lexington Tuesday evening, as the Golden Eagles (19-25) fell to Kentucky (28-20) in their final road contest of the 2021 campaign by a final score of 8-4.
In the top of the second, the purple and gold got the offense going with singles from left fielder Cody Littlejohn, catcher Hayden Gilliland and right fielder Theo Bryant IV. Tech loaded the bases, but the Wildcats secured a pair of outs before shortstop Ed Johnson took his turn at the dish.
The sophomore delivered early for the Golden Eagles, driving in the first run of the day with an infield single to shortstop. Second baseman Brett Roberts wasted little time increasing the visitor's advantage, blistering the first pitch he saw to center field for a pair of RBI and a 3-0 Tech lead.
Kentucky was quick to respond, producing a pair of one-out singles before Austin Schlutz launched a game-tying, three-run home run to left field. For good measure, the home squad tacked on another run in the inning to take its first lead of the game.
Tech turned right around in the third and provided its own answer, knotting the contest at four runs apiece thanks to the bat of center field Jason Hinchman. The junior slugger uncorked a hefty hack on a 2-2 count, blasting a solo shot to left field for a game-tying round-tripper. It marked his ninth of the year and the 42nd of his Golden Eagle career.
Again the Wildcats were ready to reply, plating the go-ahead and eventual game-winning run with an RBI double in the bottom half of the third. Kentucky added insurance runs in the fifth, seventh and eighth innings while holding the purple and gold off the scoreboard the rest of the way to secure the 8-4 victory.
Tech did scratch together 11 hits on the night, with Johnson, Hinchman, Littlejohn and Gilliland each tallying multiple base knocks on the night. Hinchman turned in a pair of the extra-base variety, collecting a double to go along with the long ball.
On the hill, right-hander Brock Myers had a solid night out of the bullpen, tossing four-and-one-third frames. He allowed a pair of runs on four hits, including just one earned, while punching out six Kentucky batters.
The Golden Eagles will return to Cookeville for their final series of the 2021 season, playing host to SIUE in a three-game, Ohio Valley Conference series starting Thursday evening with a 6:00 p.m. CT tilt. Eleven senior members of the Tech program are set to be honored prior to the tilt as part of Senior Weekend. The series will conclude with a doubleheader starting at 1:00 p.m. on Friday.
Photo by Barry Westerman