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Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles

Tech stays resilient in extra-innings win at USI in OVC opener

Tech stays resilient in extra-innings win at USI in OVC opener

By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information

EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Grit and resilience were the names of the game for the Tennessee Tech baseball team Friday night, as the Golden Eagles opened Ohio Valley Conference play with an impressive, 9-7 victory in 10 innings at Southern Indiana in Evansville, Ind.

The purple and gold overcame a 2-0 deficit and a pair of ties to pick up their first league victory of the year, riding a solid start from hurler Landon Smiddy before the offense got its start to the evening. The senior tossed 5.2 innings for the Golden Eagles (13-9, 1-0), scattering 10 hits while allowing four total runs and three earned. He also struck out five Screaming Eagles (9-12, 0-1).

The Cookeville crew found its form with the bats in the fifth, taking the lead and never letting USI get back on top again. Right fielder Theo Bryant IV set the tone, smashing a solo blast to center field to lead off the frame.

Tech quickly loaded the bases to put the pressure on and eventually plated the tying run on a double play that put a runner at third. Late in the frame, first baseman Preston Ford beat out an infield single to third base, driving in the go-ahead run for a 3-2 lead.

In the sixth, the visitors added to that advantage, thanks to an RBI, ground-rule double down the right-field line off the bat of catcher Hayden Gilliland. Southern Indiana answered back with two runs in the bottom of the sixth, squaring the contest at 4-4.

Junior Tanner Shiver led off the seventh inning with a double to left-center field, coming around to score another go-ahead run later in the frame with a sacrifice fly ball to right-center field by Eddie Garza.

The eighth inning saw the Golden Eagles add two to their lead, with left fielder Austin Turner opening things with a lead-off double to left-center field. Jordan later drove him in with an RBI single to center field. Shiver then beat out a double-play ball to plate another Tech marker for a 7-4 advantage.

USI responded again, scoring twice in the bottom of the eighth and looking on its way to a win in the ninth. The Screaming Eagles scored the tying run on a fielder's choice and eventually put runners on the corners with just one out.

A line drive to Garza at third made for one quick out before the sophomore alertly flipped the ball behind him to Shiver, covering the third-base bag from his shortstop position and beating the base runner for a clutch, inning-ending double play.

Turner drew a lead-off walk to start the 10th for the Golden Eagles, setting up the winning run for down the road. With two outs, Jordan answered the call, ripping an RBI triple down the right-field line to drive in Turner for the eventual game-winner.

A balk allowed Jordan to dent the dish and present an insurance run for the purple and gold to close the frame. Jaxson Pease earned his third win of the season after taking over in the ninth and recording all three outs without allowing a run.

Andrew Guardino took over for the 10th frame, scattering a hit and a walk to record three big outs and lock down his first save of the year. Turner, second baseman Troy Baunsgard, Jordan, and Shiver each tallied a pair of hits on the night while Turner and Gilliland each drew three walks.

Game two of the OVC series between the two programs will kick off Saturday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. CT at USI Baseball Field.

File photo by Jim Dillon

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