March 17, 2010

Guyear caps ninth inning rally, lifts Golden Eagles to 6-5 win over ETSU

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee Tech got clutch performances from several players Wednesday night, but none was bigger than freshman Zephan Guyear's two-run single in the bottom of the ninth that lifted the Golden Eagles to a 6-5, come-from-behind victory over East Tennessee State.

After the Bucs (10-4) had shocked Tech with three runs in the top of the eighth to take a 5-4 lead, the Golden Eagles left the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth.

The Golden Eagles loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth, and Guyear stroked a single through the middle to score Seth Edwards and Casanova Donaldson for the victory.

The Golden Eagles (9-8) got hits from eight of the nine spots in the lineup, including a double and home run from junior A.J. Kirby-Jones. Guyear and Tate McMillan also had two hits apiece as coach Matt Bragga's team collected 11 hits in the contest.

It didn't begin that way.

Tech was shut down early by ETSU starter Josh Means, who didn't allow a hit until Ben Burgess singled to lead off the fifth inning. The Golden Eagles had a couple of base runners early, but the Bucs defense came up with a pair of double plays to end any TTU threats.

Meanwhile, Andrew Green led of the top of the third with a solo home run to put the Bucs on top 1-0, and they added a second run in the inning on an RBI single by Paul Hoilman.

Tech finally reached Means in the sixth as McMillan singled to open the frame and Kirby-Jones pounded his ninth home run deep into the darkness beyond the left field fence to tie the contest. The Golden Eagles moved on top, 3-2, as Edwards singled and stole second, moved to third on a throwing error and scored on Guyear's sacrifice fly.

Tech took the 3-2 lead into the eighth, but two walks to open the frame and a passed ball sent Bragga to the bullpen for closer Ryan Hopkins to work out of the jam. He got the first out with a strikeout, but Hoilman poked his eighth home run of the season to left center and ETSU was up 5-4.

Tech loaded the bases with two hits and an error in the eighth, but Bo Burton got a strikeout to end the rally and preserve the lead.

Stephen Pryor (2-1) pitched a strong ninth for the Golden Eagles, coaxing two strikeouts in the frame, and the Golden Eagles rewarded him with the win by plating the winning runs in their final chance.

Kirby-Jones led off with a line drive double to the left field gap and Edwards was hit by a pitch. Donaldson laid down a bunt in front of the plate and beat it out for a single to load the bases.

ETSU third baseman Bo Reeder, playing in his hometown, came up with a strong defensive play by throwing out Kirby-Jones at the plate on a hard-to-handle grounder. That brought Guyear to the plate and he delivered the game-winning single.

Nick Price worked the first four innings for the Golden Eagles, striking out out two and scattering six hits while alowing two runs. Chad Oberacker threw three middle innings, allowing just one hit. He walked one and struck out two, but was charged with two runs in the eighth.

For ETSU, Means worked five innings and allowed four hits and three runs. He walked three and struck out two. Scott McNally pitched two innings, allowing one run and two hits, with one walk and one strikeout. Bo Burton (0-1) took the loss, pitching 1.1 innings and yielding two runs and five hits with two strikeouts.

Winners of four of their last five games, the Golden Eagles head to the University of Memphis for a three-game series this weekend against the Tigers.