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Golden Eagles claim huge OVC series with 4-3 win over Morehead State

Golden Eagles claim huge OVC series with 4-3 win over Morehead State

By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – After watching each side claim a decisive victory to open the series, it seemed only fitting that Sunday's Ohio Valley Conference baseball series between Tennessee Tech and Morehead State ended in a close battle. That's just what happened at Quillen Field and Bush Stadium at the Averitt Express Baseball Complex, as the Golden Eagles edged the visiting Eagles, 4-3, to earn a 2-1 series victory.

The purple and gold received a fantastic showing from sophomore hurler Jaxson Pease, who made his first collegiate start on the hill and picked up his fourth win of the season. The righty tossed five frames for the Golden Eagles (19-13, 6-3), scattering four hits and two walks while allowing just a single, unearned run with two punch-outs.

Supporting their first-time starter, the Tech bats provided three runs over the first four frames against the Eagles (17-14, 4-5), scoring single markers in the first, third, and fourth innings. Catcher Hayden Gilliland provided the first tally of the day, crushing the first pitch he saw way over the wall in right-center field.

The senior's seventh home run of the year also marked the 24th of his career, tying the Maryville, Tenn. native for 16th in program history for career long balls with Golston Gillespie (2021-22), David Garza (2016-18), and Matt Attaway (1997-98). Gilliland also drove in Tech's second run of the game, grounding out to the pitch with the bases loaded to make it a 2-0 ball game in the third.

The Cookeville crew earned its third marker of the contest quickly in the fourth, thanks to shortstop Tanner Shiver. The fellow Maryville product smashed the first pitch of the fourth to left field, clearing the wall with a moon shot for his seventh trot around the bags this season.

In the fifth, the visiting Eagles finally showed some life in the ball game, scoring their first run on a throwing error by the Tech defense. Pease limited the damage and turned the contest over to Jack Erdman.

The junior right-hander completed the sixth and seventh innings with little pushback, striking out three in that span. He picked up one more punch-out in the eighth before the Eagle offense loaded the bags to elicit a pitching change.

Brody Lanham took over and secured the second out with a big K. A walk allowed one run to come in before the sophomore forced a groundout to shortstop to end the threat.

Shiver came through to provide the Golden Eagle pitching staff with a huge insurance run in the bottom of the eighth, leading off the frame with a double down the third-base line. Right fielder Theo Bryant IV laid down a sacrifice bunt to get him over to third before a wild pitch allowed him to dent the dish.

Heading to the ninth, the Preseason OVC Player of the Year, Ryley Preece, also showed why he was the reigning OVC Player of the Year, working a full count before bopping a lead-off homer to right field and cutting the Tech lead to one.

Tech head coach Matt Bragga went back to the bullpen, calling upon freshman Jack Brafa to secure the final three outs of the ball game for the Golden Eagles. The rookie delivered in the biggest way, working his way through Morehead State's two, three, and four hitters in order.

Brafa sandwiched a ground out to shortstop with a pair of strikeouts, including a punchy of the OVC's leader in long balls, Roman Kuntz. He secured the first save of his young career, clinching the 4-3 win for the purple and gold.

Second baseman Troy Baunsgard and Shiver each recorded two-hit days while Gilliland led the way with a pair of RBI.

Tech will now hit the road for five straight contests, starting with a midweek match-up against in-state rival Lipscomb. The tilt will take place in Nashville at 6:00 p.m. CT Tuesday evening.

Photo by Jim Dillon

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