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Golden Eagles complete season sweep over Belmont, 15-3

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Sophomore starter Matthew Shepherd twirled six strong innings to earn his first win of the season and the Golden Eagles backed him with plenty of offense as Tennessee Tech posted a 15-3 non-conference victory Tuesday night over Belmont in Bush Stadium.

Tech (15-19) swept the season series from the Bruins (17-18), following a 15-5 victory in Nashville in March. 

Shepherd (1-0) scattered six hits, allowing three runs, walking four and striking out a career-high seven Bruin hitters.

A.J. Kirby-Jones crushed his 17th home run of the season, a three-run shot in the third inning as Tech piled up runs for Shepherd. The Golden Eagles scored in five of the six innings he was on the mound.

Every Golden Eagle starter had at least one hit in the contest, led by Chad Oberacker's 4-for-5 effort. Casanova Donaldson, Zephan Guyear and Tate McMillan also had multi-hit games as Tech swatted out 15 safeties off five Belmont pitchers.

Starter Josh Davis (1-2) took the loss, working the first three innings and allowing seven runs, only four of which were earned.

The scoring started quickly for Tech with three in the first. With one out, McMillan beat out an infield single and Kirby-Jones walked. Oberacker's double to left scored one run, and put two runners into scoring position. Tech took advantage when Burgess hit a pop fly into foul territory behind second as Kirby-Jones tagged and scored, then Oberacker came home when the throw to the plate was wild, giving Tech a 3-0 lead.

Packy Elkins led of the Belmont third with a solo home run, his eighth of the year, to cut Tech's lead to 3-1.

The Golden Eagles answered with four in the bottom of the frame, three coming on Kirby-Jones' home run, a line shot to left. Burgess followed with a single, advanced on a wild pitch, and scored on an RBI single by Frankie Beech to make it 7-1.

Tim Egerton singled and Phillip Parsley doubled to open the Belmont fourth. A wild pitch scored one run and a groundout a second as Belmont made it 7-3. A walk and a double had Shepherd in a jam, but he pitched out of it with a strikeout to end the inning.

Once again, the Golden Eagles struck back quickly, putting three more on the board in the bottom of the fourth for a 10-3 lead. Guyear and Austin Wulf singled and McMillan's RBI single plated the first run. A walk to Kirby-Jones loaded the bases and Oberacker punched a single to left, scoring Wulf. McMillan also scored on the play when the ball was mishandled in the outfield.

Hayes doubled with two out in the fifth and Guyear singled to score him as Tech made it 11-3.

Tech scored three more in the sixth as McMillan and Kirby-Jones walked and Oberacker singled to load the bases. After a sacrifice fly by Burgess, Donaldson beat out a bunt to reload the bases. Beech was hit by an inside pitch for an RBI, and Hayes finished with another sacrifice fly.

After Stephen Pryor tossed a perfect seventh, Wade Bilbrey pitched himself into trouble with two walks and a single, but he struck out two and got a pop fly to end the threat without any damage.

The Golden Eagles face an important three-game Ohio Valley Conference series this weekend when they host Eastern Illinois. The schedule includes a doubleheader Saturday and a single game Sunday, with action beginning both days at 1 p.m.

Admission is free.