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Wild walk-off lifts Golden Eagles over Panthers to even series

Wild walk-off lifts Golden Eagles over Panthers to even series

By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – It was a wild finish at Quillen Field and Bush Stadium at the Averitt Express Baseball Complex Saturday evening, as the Tennessee Tech baseball team earned a thrilling, walk-off win over Ohio Valley Conference rival Eastern Illinois, 6-5.

All squared up at 5-5 heading into the bottom of the ninth, the Golden Eagles (27-20, 11-9) went to work with a very patient approach at the dish. Right fielder Theo Bryant IV, who had a spectacular day at the diamond, set the tone early, taking six pitches before succumbing to a strikeout.

Shortstop Tanner Shiver followed by drawing a five-pitch walk before center field Nicho Jordan took his place on a fielder's choice to first base. With two outs, the purple and gold dug deep against Eastern Illinois (15-27, 9-11).

Designated hitter Mack Whitcomb delivered a composed at-bat, watching two strikes before turning in a nine-pitch free pass. Third baseman Eddie Garza kept the train rolling by picking up his own six-pitch walk, loading the bases, and sending the Golden Eagle offense to the top of the order.

Left fielder Austin Turner watched the second offering to him miss its mark and elude the catcher for a wild pitch, allowing Jordan to sprint home, dent the dish, and give Tech the huge league victory.

Tech took the early lead in the contest to back up another quality start by Peyton Calitri. Leading off the second inning with a double to left-center field, first baseman Preston Ford came around to score thanks to a sacrifice fly to center field by Whitcomb.

In the third, second baseman Troy Baunsgard singled up the middle, and catcher Hayden Gilliland drew a walk to set up Bryant for a big hack. The veteran delivered, slashing a three-run laser over the wall in right-center field for a 4-0 lead. It marked his seventh home run of the season.

The Panthers finally got on the board in the sixth, using a pair of base hits and a steal to plate a two-run marker. Tech got the run back in the bottom of the seventh, with Shiver kicking off a two-out rally with a single up the middle.

An infield knock by Jordan put runners on the corners before Whitcomb smashed an RBI single through the left side. Eastern Illinois rallied in the eighth, singling off Calitri to end his night for the purple and gold.

The senior hurler ended up covering 7.0 innings with just two runs allowed on seven hits while striking out three with no walks. EIU attacked the Tech bullpen, scoring four runs in the eighth on five hits, including two unearned off Jaxson Pease.

The sophomore rebounded to toss a scoreless ninth frame, setting himself up to pick up his sixth win of the season. Baunsgard, Shiver, and Whitcomb all gathered two hits apiece to lead the Tech offense.

Due to anticipated inclement weather in the Cookeville area, Sunday's series finale has been moved up to a 12:00 p.m. first pitch. 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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