MOBILE, Ala. -- Matthew Shepherd pitched five solid innings, fanning eight South Alabama batters and walking only one as the Tennessee Tech baseball team took a 4-3 lead into the sixth inning. But the Jaguars would wrap up a late rally with a two-run eighth inning to clinch a 6-4 win in the first game of a two-game series on Tuesday evening.
Tech falls to 4-7 on the season while USA imrpoves to 9-5. The Golden Eagles and Jaguars will play game two on Wednesday at 2 p.m.
Seth Edwards, A.J. Kirby-Jones, Ben Burgess and Casanova Donaldson each had at least one hit and drove in a run for the Golden Eagles. Kirby-Jones, who leads the Ohio Valley Conference in walks with 17, was give two more free bases by USA pitchers.
Tech scored two runs in the first inning, but USA would match with two runs of its own in the bottom of the first. The Golden Eagles would again take a lead with one run in the top of the second, but the Jaguars answered again to tie the game at three.
Tech went up 4-3 with a run in the top of the fourth, which stood until the bottom of the sixth. But South Alabama got the last word with a tying run in the bottom of the sixth, and a game-clinching two-run eighth that sealed the 6-4 win.
Ryan Hopkins got the loss on the mound for Tech after pitching 1.2 innings and giving up one run and a hit with a walk and a strikeout.
Tuesday's game was the first ever meeting between the two schools.
The Golden Eagles will return to Cookeville with a four-game weekend series gaainst Buffalo. The series will begin with a single game on March 12 at 3 p.m., followed by a double-header on March 13 beginning at 1 p.m. and the series finale on March 14 at 12 p.m.