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Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles

Panthers take series opener over Golden Eagles

Panthers take series opener over Golden Eagles

By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – An early pitcher's dual turned into a hefty win for visiting Eastern Illinois Friday afternoon, as the Tennessee Tech baseball team dropped its Ohio Valley Conference series opener with the Panthers, 12-5, at Quillen Field and Bush Stadium at the Averitt Express Baseball Complex.

In the first, Eastern Illinois (15-26, 9-10) smashed a lead-off home run before Tech hurler Landon Smiddy (3-5) settled in. The Golden Eagle starter responded by striking out the side before handing things to his offense.

With runners on the corners and two outs, left fielder Preston Ford ripped an RBI double down the left-field line, squaring the contest at 1-1. Both pitchers dominated over the next four frames, taking a pair of gems into the sixth.

The Panthers used a defensive miscue by the Golden Eagles (26-20, 10-9) in the sixth to provide the damage to earn the win. After Smiddy struck out his ninth batter of the day, EIU slashed a two-run double to right-center field to take the lead.

Smiddy appeared to be out of the inning following a ground ball, but Tech was unable to make a clean play and the Panthers made them pay. Eastern Illinois added another base hit and a home run to finish with a six-spot in the frame.

EIU ace Casey Perrenoud (3-2) limited Tech to just one run on six hits and three walks over the opening seven innings, striking out six batters. The Panthers turned to their bullpen for the eighth inning and the Golden Eagles took advantage of the change.

After an error allowed the first Golden Eagle to reach, Ford delivered again for the purple and gold by blasting a majestic, two-run blast to straight center field, his sixth long ball of the year. Third baseman Tanner Shiver made it back-to-back jacks by crushing the very next pitch clear over the wall in left-center field for his ninth round-tripper of the season.

Eastern Illinois quickly answered in the ninth, using a pair of home runs and another Tech error to score five more runs for a 12-4 lead.

Catcher Hayden Gilliland hammered a solo bomb to right-center field in the bottom of the ninth for his 11th dinger of the year before the Panthers finished things off. With his two knocks on the day, he moved into a tie for 21st on Tech's all-time hits list. The Maryville, Tenn. native's 28th career homer moved him into a tie for 14th in program history with Bobby Morgan (1997-99) and Mark Maberry (1994-97).

Ford ended the day 3-for-4 with three RBI and a run scored while Shiver turned in a 2-for-3 showing with a walk.

Game two of the series has been bumped up to a 1:00 p.m. CT first pitch Saturday afternoon. With inclement weather, including rain, in the forecast, fans are encouraged to check TTUSports.com and Tennessee Tech social media for any potential updates/changes to this weekend's schedule.

Photo by Jim Dillon

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