JACKSON, Tenn. – Tennessee Tech sent 13 batters to the plate
in the fourth inning and scored 10 runs to erase a 5-0 deficit on
the way to a 15-6 victory over Murray State Saturday afternoon in
an elimination game at the 2010 Ohio Valley Conference Baseball
Championship at Pringles Park.
The win sends Tech into the championship game Sunday against
Jacksonville State. The two teams will tangle at noon, and a second
game is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. if Tech wins the noon contest in
the double-elimination tourney.
The Golden Eagles are bidding to become the first time in 15 years
to win back-to-back tournament titles and advance to the NCAA
"We believe in our players, we believe in the young men that we
have, we believe in our coaches and we’re a hard fighting
team," Bragga said. "We realize its going to be a great challenge
but it’ll be fun. We look forward to it."
Jacksonville State scored four runs in the eighth inning to beat
Tech, 9-7, in the first game of the day. That put the No. 2 seed
Gamecocks into the championship game and forced top-seeded Tech to
play No. 3 Murray State.
Down 5-0 after three innings, the Golden Eagles chased starter
Matt McGaha (5-2) in the fourth. Tech scored 10 runs on nine hits
in the inning to grab a 10-5 lead.
"It was nice to see because it showed a lot of resiliency on our
guys part," Bragga said of the big inning. "Our guys are resilient
and very tough and bounced back with that 10-run inning. That was
fantastic. I told one of our assistant coaches that was one of the
most fun innings I've ever been a part of."
(2-0) took over the pitching duties for Tech in the bottom of the
inning for starter Chason Choate and
the freshman was outstanding. He worked the final six innings
allowing just three hits and one run, walking two and striking out
three to get the win.
"Nick played fantastic. He’s just a freshman and
he’s going to be a star in this league and a star for our
baseball team," Bragga said. "He’s a great guy and our guys
have a lot of confidence in him. We have confidence in a lot of our
guys so that was great to see Nick do that. We’re really
proud of him and what a great young man he is."
Price said watching the Golden Eagles in the NCAA Regional last
year helped to inspire him.
"Last year I got to sit at home and watch the regionals on TV and
you know, I was proud of the guys," Price said. "I watched them do
it last year and then I had to sit out most of the fall with an
elbow injury, so I just worked hard and got back in, and coach and
my defense and all my teammates have a lot of faith in me that
I’m gonna get the job done. That’s a big confidence
booster in itself.
A 10-run inning helps, too.
"Oh that felt great," Price said. "We’re not ready for
this season to end, we’re not ready to go home, we just wanna
keep winning and we had a huge inning. The guys got the bats rollin
like we can hit and I knew that with a five-run lead, all I had to
do was throw strikes. I’ve got a great defense behind me, the
best fielding percentage in the OVC, so I knew all I had to do was
throw strikes and they’d make the plays."
"That was great to see," Bragga said. "Frankie’s a really
good hitter. He led the Tennessee JUCO system in hitting and
he’s been on-and-off a little bit this year, and he’d
be the first one to tell you that, so we knew he could do that and
it was really great to see. He’s been pressing lately, trying
to do too much, and I think he just kind of got into a rhythm and
relaxed and had some fun. And Casanova’s just a great hitter,
he can do so many things, he runs well, he bunts."
Tech added two runs in the seventh and three more in the eight to
build the lead to 15-5 before Murray State tacked on a single run
in the eighth on a solo home run by Daniel Hill.
Jacksonville State 9, Tech 7 (first game)
Despite an early 5-2 lead, Tech saw Jacksonville State rally for
four runs in the eighth inning as the Gamecocks claimed a 9-7
victory in the winner's bracket final.
Tech took a 3-0 lead in the first inning. After the Gamecocks
pulled with 3-2 with two in the top of the second, Tech added two
runs in the bottom of the inning for a 5-2 lead. JSU scored twice
in the fifth to once again pull within one run at 5-4, then tied
the contest with a single run in the sixth.
It stood tied for a couple of innings before JSU rallied for
four runs on three hits in the eighth. The Golden Eagles fought
back with single runs in the eighth and ninth for the final margin.
Pryor (4-4) suffered the loss in relief for Tech while JSU
reliever Jordan Beistline (3-3) earned the win. Nick Hornsby got
his fifth save of the year.
Sophomore catcher Ben Burgess (photo at
left) was 4-for-5 with four RBI to lead the Golden Eagles. Chad
Oberacker had two hits including a triple and A.J. Kirby-Jones also
had two hits, both doubles. Devin Rivers hit his fourth home run of
the year in going 2-for-3.
Blake Sequin, hitting ninth in the JSU lineup, was 4-for-4 while
four other Gamecock hitters had two hits each.
The games Sunday against Jacksonville State can be heard live on
the Golden Eagle Sports Network via either the telephone or
Internet by clicking here. TTU Director of Athletics Mark
Wilson will call the action along with TTU Sports Information
assistant Kate Nicewicz.