MOBILE, Ala. – With one out and the bases loaded in the
bottom of the ninth inning Ryan Hopkins came in to pitch for the
Golden Eagles and try to preserve a slim two-run lead. And he did
just that, forcing back-to-back ground balls to earn the save and
give the Tennessee Tech baseball team a 14-13 win over South
Alabama Wednesday afternoon.
The Golden Eagles tallied 14 runs on 20 hits and it proved to be just enough, as Tech escaped with the road win over the Jaguars to earn a split in the two-game series.
Seth Edwards went 4-for-6 at the plate, Chad Hayes and Chad Oberacker each went 3-for-5, and A.J. Kirby-Jones, Casanova Donaldson, Zephan Guyear and Evan Frazier each had two hits, as Tech reached the 20 hit mark for the second time in the young season. The Golden Eagles improve to 5-7 on the season, and snap a five-game losing streak. USA falls to 9-6 on the year.
The Golden Eagles came out of the gates strong, rallying for four runs in the first inning and three in the second to take a 7-1 lead into the third inning. But the Jaguars began chip away, and heading into the eighth inning USA had cut Tech’s lead to just 12-10. Both teams scored a run in the eighth inning, and Tech added another in the ninth to go ahead 14-11. USA led off the bottom of the ninth with a pair of walks and single to load the bases with no outs. After a strikeout and another walk, Hopkins entered the game and was able to get the save.
The Golden Eagles scored in every inning except for the fourth, while USA scored a run in seven of the nine innings in the offensive battle. Nine different Golden Eagle batters had at least one hit in the game.
Chason Choate got the start on the mound for the Golden Eagles, and allowed six runs on seven hits in 4.1 innings of work while walking two and striking out two. Stephen Pryor got the win for the Golden Eagles after pitching two-thirds of an inning without allowing a hit or a run and striking out two batters.
A.J. Kirby-Jones hit his team-leading fourth home run of the season, which puts him alone in fourth place on Tech’s all-time career home run list with 29 for his career. Two of Edwards’ four hits were doubles, and Oberacker added a double as well for the Golden Eagles offensively. Tate McMillan drew three walks in the game.
The Golden Eagles will return home for a four-game weekend series against Buffalo at Bush Stadium beginning with a single game on March 12 at 3 p.m., followed by a double-header on March 13 at 1 p.m. and the series finale on March 14 at noon. Admission to all Tech home baseball games is free.