MARTIN, Tenn. - It took 20 innings of play, but the Golden Eagles earned a pair of wins in Saturday's double header against the UT-Martin Skyhawks.
Junior Cassanova Donaldson was the hero in game one, leading the attack with five hits and two RBI. A.J. Kirby-Jones was 3-for-5 and Chad Oberacker went 3-for-5 with a home run and two RBI.
Starter Adam Liberatore worked 7 1/3 innings without a decision. Stephen Pryor (4-3) earned the win, pitching 4 2/3 innings in relief, while Chason Choate tossed the final inning to claim his second save of the season.
Tied 6-6 through regulation, the two squads battled through three scoreless innings before Tech rallied for three in the top of the 13th for a 9-6 lead. The Skyhawks scored one in the bottom of the inning before Choate slammed the door.
Liberatore scattered nine hits, allowing five earned runs while walking two and striking out six. Pryor took over in the eighth inning, going 4 2/3 while allowing two runs on three hits. He walked four and struck out eight.
Choate walked two and gave up one run in the 13th before finishing up.
Reliever Drew Flaniken (1-3) was charged with the loss for UTM, going four innings and allowing three runs on five hits. He walked four and struck out six.
The host Skyhawks charged out to a 4-0 lead in the second inning but Oberacker’s two-run home run in the fourth helped the Golden Eagles score three and close the gap to one run. Tech added two more in the fifth for a 5-4 lead.
Each team put a single run on the board in the eighth, and the Skyhawks tied the game at 6-6 in the bottom of the ninth to force extra innings.
Once again, Oberacker was the one who lit the fuse on the three-run 13th inning for the Golden Eagles. He led off with a double and eventually scored a go-ahead run on a passed ball. After a couple of walks, Chad Hayes delivered an RBI single and Austin Wulf did the same to make it 9-6.
Tech finished with 19 hits in the game and went flawless in the field. UT Martin had 12 hits and one error.
Lee Henry had a phenomenal performance for Tech in game two, pitching his second complete game of the season and allowing only two runs off of four hits and two walks. Henry fanned eight Skyhawk batters and kept Martin off the board through the first three innings to get the win.
Tech had the hot bats early in the first inning, when Austin Wulf singled to right center and stole second. A.J. Kirby-Jones singled to left field and advanced to second when Wulf moved ahead to third. A wild pitch and a double by Chad Oberacker brough both baserunners in to put two on the board for the Golden Eagles. Wulf would go on to go 3-for-5 with one RBI on the day.
Henry went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the first, and walked one batter in each the second and third innings, only to leave them stranded on base. Martin finally put up one run in the fourth when Ty Nelson lined a double to left center and scored on a single by Jordan Owen.
The Golden Eagles stretched their lead to two in the fifth inning, but really busted the game open with a solid performance at the plate in the seventh inning. Oberacker, who went 2-for-3 with one RBI, knocked his second double of the game into left center field and stole third after Casanova Donaldson took first on a hit-by-pitch. With runners on the corners Devin Rivers (3-for-4 on the day) scored Oberacker and pushed Donaldson to second with a single to left field.
Frankie Beech brought Donaldson across the plate with a base hit and moved Rivers into scoring position for Wulf, who rounded out the three run inning by ripping a shot through the right side to send Rivers home. Wulf advanced to second on the play at the plate.
With two Tech batters in scoring position, Alec Mills relieved Coty Green and promptly loaded the bases by catching Doug Martin with an inside pitch. Hot hitter A.J. Kirby-Jones stepped up to the plate for the grand slam opportunity, but Mills and the Skyhawk outfield got out of the jam by snagging Kirby-Jones' hit into center field.
Martin threatened in the bottom of the seventh when Owen launched a long ball and Brant Morris singled through the right side, but Henry (5-3) induced a ground out and a line out and got Matt Young swinging to clinch the game for the Tech.
One again, the Golden Eagles boasted perfection behind Henry in the field and logged 14 hits for the game.
The loss was charged to Coty Green (9-3) who allowed all 14 hits in 6 2/3 innings, struck out four and walked two.
Tech (25-22) improved to 11-5 in OVC play. The Golden Eagles entered the day in second place in the conference standings, two games behind Murray State (11-5) in the win column. The Racers held that edge with a 7-5 victory over Morehead State in their first game Saturday, but the second game was suspended by rain in the eighth inning with the teams tied at 4-4.
The Golden Eagles will look to give Martin the broom in Sunday's final game for their fourth straight conference series sweep. Sunday's finale will start at 1:00pm.