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Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles

Golden Eagles take final road trip of regular season to SIUE

Golden Eagles take final road trip of regular season to SIUE

By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech baseball team heads for Edwardsville, Ill. this weekend for its final road trip of the 2024 regular season, taking on SIUE in another big Ohio Valley Conference series starting Friday at 6:00 p.m. CT. 

Game two of the weekend will feature a 2:00 p.m. CT first pitch while the finale is slated for a 1:00 p.m. start on Sunday afternoon. All three tilts are scheduled to be streamed live on ESPN+.

Friday's series opener marks the 41st match-up between the two programs all time, with the Golden Eagles boasting a 25-15 lead. Last season, the purple and gold earned a 4-0 record against the Cougars, sweeping the weekend series in Cookeville before topping SIUE in the first game of the OVC Tournament.

Tech out-slugged SIUE in the opener, 14-9, and followed it up with a 7-5 triumph in the second game of the series. Completing the sweep, the Golden Eagles bested the Cougars 9-7.

Hunter Mann, an eventual selection by the Colorado Rockies in the 14th round of the 2023 MLB Draft, was brilliant for the purple and gold on the mound. The fireballer twirled 7.0 shutout innings with 10 strikeouts, scattering four hits and a pair of walks as the Golden Eagles earned a 4-0 win to move on in the OVC Tournament.

The Golden Eagles bounced back after suffering a season-long five-game losing streak, taking the final two contests against Eastern Illinois in last weekend's OVC series in Cookeville. The Panthers claimed the opener, 12-5, handing Tech its fifth straight loss. 

The purple and gold showed off its resiliency in snapping the streak in game two. After EIU erased a 5-1 Tech advantage with four runs in the eighth, the Cookeville crew worked the bases loaded in the ninth before walking things off on a wild pitch for a 6-5 win. In Sunday's finale, the Golden Eagles outlasted the Panthers in a 16-14 heavyweight fight. 

Known historically under the watch of long-time head coach Matt Bragga as one of the premier, home-run slugging programs in the country year in and year out, this year's Golden Eagles squad sports a slightly different look on offense. The 2024 edition still ranks third in the OVC in long balls, but it's been the patience and speed that has shined during the season.

Heading into the weekend, the Golden Eagles ranked tied for 20th in the nation in triples as a team, boasting 17 so far on the year. Tech also ranked tied for 38th nationally in walks, drawing 257 this year to lead the OVC.

Left fielder Austin Turner paces the group with a whopping 50 in 48 games, ranking tied for fifth nationally and fourth in a single season in program history. Boasting 127 in his Tech career, he now ranks sixth in program history for walks, boasting eight more than current teammate and Golden Eagle catcher Hayden Gilliland, who ranks seventh with 119. Turner's eight career triples rank eighth in program history while his 127 runs scored rank 22nd and his 26 steals are tied for 24th. Turner and infielder Tanner Shiver are both tied for 26th in the nation with four triples each. 

Gilliland has climbed a number of career record charts for the purple and gold in his senior campaign in addition to the all-time walks list. He currently ranks 13th in on-base percentage (.437), tied for 13th in home runs (29), 18th in RBI (127), tied for 20th in hits (191), tied for 23rd in runs (120). Defensively, he now ranks second in program history with 50 runners caught stealing, trailing Britt Clubb (2002-05) by six for the all-time record.

Peyton Calitri has been special on the bump, ranking third nationally with a walks/nine innings mark of 1.05 and fourth with a strikeout/walk ratio of 8.11, fanning 73 batters with just nine free passes on the year. He also has been ascending the all-time career leaderboards, ranking tied for third in strikeout/walk ratio (3.44), third in walks/nine innings (2.20), tied for seventh in starts (38), tied for eighth in wins (17), tied for 10th in strikeouts (179), 14th in innings pitched (217.1)

Tech head coach Matt Bragga is starting to climb the OVC's all-time coaching wins list, closing in on sixth place. Bragga and TTU Sports Hall of Famer David Mays represent the only pair of coaches from the same school to rank in the league's top eight of OVC wins.

1.   Gary McClure, Austin Peay (1988-15)     847
2.     Johnny Reagan, Murray State (1980-01)    776
3.   Jim Ward, Eastern Kentucky (1980-01)   628
4.   Jim Case, Jacksonville State (2004-21)    564
5.   David Mays, Tennessee Tech (1974-98)   554
6.    Mark Hogan, Southeast Missouri (1995-12)    526
7.   Matt Bragga, Tennessee Tech (2004-18, 22-present)   525
8.   Jim Schmitz, Eastern Illinois (1997-15)   480
9.   John Stanford, Middle Tennessee (1974-87)   402
10.    Steve Peterson, Middle Tennessee (1988-00)   401


SIUE enters the weekend on a five-game skid, dropping all three tilts at Southern Indiana last week, as well as a midweek decision at Southern Illinois on Tuesday. USI downed the Cougars 5-1 in the opener, 11-6 in game two, and 13-9 in the finale.

Against the Salukis on Tuesday, the Cougars rallied late to tie the ball game at 7-7 with two runs in the top of the ninth. Southern Illinois answered back, however, winning on a walk-off, sacrifice fly to center field for the 8-7 decision.

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Current Weekend Schedule
Friday, May 10 | 6:00 p.m. CT | at SIUE
Saturday, May 11 | 2:00 p.m. CT | at SIUE
Sunday, May 12 | 1:00 p.m. CT | at SIUE

2024 Record: 28-20
2024 OVC Record: 12-9
Head Coach: Matt Bragga
TTU: 525-473-2 (18th Season)
Career: 576-549-3 (21st Season)

AVG: Hayden Gilliland (.346)
2B: Troy Baunsgard (17)
3B: Tanner Shiver / Austin Turner (4)
HR: Hayden Gilliland (12)
RBI: Hayden Gilliland (52)
R: 3 players tied (45)
BB: Austin Turner (50)
SLG%: Tanner Shiver (.611)
OB%: Hayden Gilliland (.460)
SB: Austin Turner (18)
ERA: Peyton Calitri (2.69)*
W: Peyton Calitri (7)
APP: Jaxson Pease (17)
IP: Peyton Calitri (77.0)
K: Landon Smiddy (76)
BAA: Peyton Calitri (.234)*
SV: Jack Erdman / Jaxson Pease (3)
* minimum 1.0 innings pitcher per team game played

2024 Record: 18-29-1
2024 OVC Record: 10-11
Head Coach: Sean Lyons
SIUE: 159-217-1 (8th Season)
Career: Same

AVG: Lucas Spence (.415)
2B: Lucas Spence (13)
3B: Lucas Spence (4)
HR: Ryan Niedzwiedz (8)
RBI: Ryan Niedzwiedz (45)
R: Lucas Spence (47)
BB: Ryan Niedzwiedz (27)
SLG%: Lucas Spence (.590)
OB%: Lucas Spence (.495)
SB: Daniel Gierer (15)
ERA: Tyler DeLong (7.34)*
W: 3 players tied (3)
APP: Liam McKillop (18)
IP: Tyler DeLong (61.1)
K: Tyler DeLong (50)
BAA: Tyler DeLong (.296)*
SV: Liam McKillop / Duncan McLaughlin (3)
* minimum 1.0 innings pitcher per team game played

Photo by Jim Dillon

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