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Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles

Golden Eagles complete season sweep with 5-2 win over Blue Raiders

Golden Eagles complete season sweep with 5-2 win over Blue Raiders

By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Timely offense and strong pitching were the recipe for success for the Tennessee Tech baseball team Wednesday evening, as the Golden Eagles took down in-state rival Middle Tennessee in a 5-2 rematch at Reese Smith Jr Field in Murfreesboro.

Completing the season series sweep, after taking down the Blue Raiders (13-23) in Cookeville by a score of 11-9 at the beginning of the month, the purple and gold (23-14) had to fight from behind in the early going, as the home squad took a 1-0 lead in the first.

The Golden Eagles answered in the top of the third, with center fielder Jackson Green setting the tone for the night's aggressiveness. The junior laid down a bunt single and promptly stole second base, one of his impressive three swipes on the night. After left fielder Austin Turner drew his 40th walk of the year, both speedsters took off, collecting a pair of steals in the process.

Second baseman Troy Baunsgard reached safely on an error at shortstop, driving in the first run of the game for the Cookeville crew. Catcher Hayden Gilliland followed by belting an RBI double the other way to left-center field, pushing the Golden Eagles on top, 2-1.

Middle Tennessee promptly squared the score to open the bottom half of the inning, using a lead-off home run to tie the ball game at 2-2. That would be it for the Blue Raiders, as the Tech pitching staff came together to blank the home squad over the final six frames of the ball game.

Freshman Drew Mattox took over on the hill for the fourth and fifth innings, scattering a walk and two hits with a pair of strikeouts while keeping MTSU off the scoreboard. Tech's offense rewarded the youngster's effort, providing a lead in the sixth to give Mattox his second win of the season.

After third baseman Eddie Garza reached base on a fielder's choice, rookie Mack Whitcomb provided the big swing of the night. On the second pitch he saw, the designated hitter pounded a two-run blast to right field, clearing the wall for the third time on the year for a 4-2 Tech lead.

Sophomore Brody Lanham relieved Mattox for the sixth, tossing up another zero for his squad with a strikeout. Senior Andrew Guardino covered the seventh and eighth innings, facing just seven batters and punching out three of them.

In the top of the eighth, Gilliland brought home an insurance run for the Tech effort, drawing a bases-loaded walk. Sophomore Jaxson Pease entered for the ninth, striking out two Blue Raiders on his way to picking up his third save of the season.

Green led the offense with a 3-for-3 showing, two runs scored, and a career-high-tying three stolen bases, bringing his season total to an impressive 11. Turner drew a pair of walks, numbers 40 and 41 on the year, tying for 12th in a single season in program history.

The senior also collected his 17th swipe of the year, tying for 19th in team history for a single season. With 25 total steals to his credit in his career, he sits just one back of cracking the program's top-25 career charts.

Picking up a pair of hits, Gilliland brought his career total to 177, sitting just three knocks out of the program's top-25 list. Whitcomb also tallied a pair of hits on the day.

Tech will return to Cookeville and the comfort of Quillen Field and Bush Stadium at the Averitt Express Baseball Complex this weekend for a huge, Ohio Valley Conference series with Southeast Missouri. The two league rivals head into Friday's 6:00 p.m. CT opener tied with Little Rock for first place in the OVC standings.

File photo by Jim Dillon

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