By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – With the history between Tennessee Tech and Jacksonville State, a split in their final faceoff almost seemed fitting. The games on Tuesday seemed indicative of the team's 17-year rivalry in the Ohio Valley Conference – outstanding pitching, clutch offense and late-inning heroics.
Jacksonville State took game one 4-3, then the Golden Eagles claimed the nightcap 4-1.
Haeli Bryson continued her recent strong effort, taking a no-hitter all the way through two outs in the top of the sixth. Needing just four more outs to complete the no-no bid, the Gamecocks took a 2-1 lead as Savannah Sudduth singled and Shelby Newsome brought her home with a triple to center field. Jada Terry continued the sudden flourish with a home run to left center.
Jessie Lowery gave Tech its first run in the bottom of the third as she hit a ball deep to center field. Keeli Bobbitt was there, but the ball bounced off her glove and over the wall for a solo home run.
Now trailing 2-1, Bryson helped her cause with a leadoff double to left. Beth McCulley followed with a single, then advancing on an errant throw as the Gamecock defense unsuccessfully tried to catch Bryson at home. Amanda Phy came in to run for McCulley, then Paxton Grimes roped a single to center, bringing Phy home and tying the game.
In the top of the seventh, Megan Fortner went yard for a go-ahead homer to straight-away center, retaking a 4-3 lead that held.
Bryson took the loss, falling to 8-5. She allowed four runs on four hits, walking none and striking out four. Reagan Watkins evened her record at 5-5, allowing two earned runs on seven hits as she walked one and struck out seven.
Three Golden Eagles had multi-hit games as Bryson, McCulley and Grimes each had two hits.
Game two was another duel between Tech's Alyssa Arden and JSU's Nicole Rodriguez. Arden went the distance, allowing one run on six hits, walking two and striking out four. Rodriguez pitched six innings, allowing four runs – two earned – on five hits, walking four and striking out four more.
Tech scored in the home half of the first as Grimes hit a double to right, scoring Mackenzie Fitzgerald from third. JSU responded in the second as Fortner hit another home run – in consecutive at-bats, even though it was a different game.
With the game knotted at one, the Golden Eagles retook the lead in the fourth inning as Sydney Love-Baker hit a deep blast to left center.
Tech then added some insurance in the sixth. With two down and Penning on first and Love-Baker on second, Nicolle Nysted came in to pinch hit. She delivered some insurance, driving both of the runners in with a double to give the Golden Eagles the 4-1 lead.
The Golden Eagles (18-21, 12-12 OVC) are slated to travel to first-place Eastern Kentucky this weekend. With potential weather this weekend, the series may see a change in schedule. Updates will be provided on TTUsports.com and the team's social media channels when available.
Photo | Jim Dillon