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Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles

No. 17 Commodores edge Golden Eagles in 11 innings

No. 17 Commodores edge Golden Eagles in 11 innings

By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It was a thrilling finish Tuesday night at Hawkins Field, but the Tennessee Tech baseball team's bid at an upset over No. 17 nationally-ranked Vanderbilt came up just short as the Commodores walked off the Golden Eagles in the 11th inning, 8-7.

The contest marked the fifth extra-inning ball game of the year for the purple and gold (26-19) and the first to reach 11 innings since Tech fell in a road tilt at SIUE back on May 7, 2022. It also represented the first tilt to reach extras for the Vandy Boys (32-13) this season.

It was basically a tale of two ball games on the night, as pitching dominated early before the offenses really got going down the stretch. The Golden Eagles struck the early blow in the first, using a little two-out rally to dent the dish.

Right fielder Theo Bryant IV ripped a double to center field to put a runner in scoring position and first baseman Nicho Jordan delivered. The junior peppered a base knock to center field, plating Bryant for the early, 1-0 lead.

From there, Tech starter Matt Gelorme took over on the mound, firing up four straight zeros on the scoreboard to take the visitors from Cookeville to the fifth. In that frame, the Golden Eagles used a little more two-out magic to increase their advantage.

With runners on second and third and two outs, designated hitter Mack Whitcomb took his turn at the dish, falling behind in the count 1-2. The freshman showed his chops, crushing a hanging breaking ball well over the massive wall in left field for a three-run home run.

Vanderbilt finally got on the board in the bottom of the fifth, scoring an unearned run behind a throwing error by the Tech defense. Tech answered back in the sixth, however, scoring twice more to inflate the lead to 6-1.

Yet another two out rally provided the punch for the purple and gold, as Bryant was plunked by a pitch and Nicho Jordan patiently drew a six-pitch walk. Left fielder Preston Ford loaded the bags after getting hit by an 0-2 offering, bringing shortstop Tanner Shiver to the plate. The senior was clutch, slicing the first pitch he saw to right field to drive in a pair of runs.

In the seventh, the Dores showed why they entered the evening ranked in the top 20 nationally, embarking on a six-run frame while taking advantage of two Golden Eagle miscues along the way. After the first error and base hit allowed the first marker to score, a three-run home run, ruled so after a video review showed the ball just barely leave the ballpark before bouncing back into play, made it a one-run game.

Tech appeared to have a chance to end the inning, with a potential double-play ball in the works, but an errant throw on the back end of the play sailed out of play to allow two more runs to cross. Just like that, Vanderbilt was on top, 7-6.

The Commodores seemed well on their way to victory in the ninth, gathering two quick outs to bring Whitcomb to the dish for the Golden Eagles. The rookie mustered up some more two-out magic, blasting a solo bomb the other way down the right-field line to send the Tech faithful into a frenzy and start the game all over.

Both sides traded a scoreless 10th before Vanderbilt took care of business in the 11th. A lead-off walk and back-to-back singles loaded the bags before a 3-1 offering from rookie Juan Vargas clipped RJ Austin for a walk-off, RBI hit-by-pitch.

Whitcomb paced the Golden Eagle offense on the night, finishing 4-for-5 with four RBI and two runs scored. Jordan also put up two hits with two runs scored in the contest while Shiver added a pair of ribbies. Seven total Tech hitters recorded at least one knock on the night.

Gelorme finished with 4.2 innings of work, allowing just one, unearned run while striking out five batters. Jack Erdman covered 3.2 innings out of the bullpen, also surrendering one unearned run. He fanned three while scattering two hits.

The Golden Eagles return to Cookeville to host Ohio Valley Conference rival Eastern Illinois in a huge weekend series at Quillen Field and Bush Stadium at the Averitt Express Baseball Complex, starting with a 6:00 p.m. CT first pitch Friday evening.

File photo by Jim Dillon

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