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Mighty fine, streak at nine; Golden Eagles sweep Govs, 10-2

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech baseball team extended its Ohio Valley Conference winning streak to nine games Sunday, completing a three-game series sweep over Austin Peay with a 10-2 victory in Bush Stadium.

Catcher Ben Burgess belted his third home run of the season and drove in three runs to lead Tech's offensive charge. Starter Tristan Archer (3-1) worked five strong innings to earn the win while Chason Choate notched his first save of the year with four innings of two-hit work in relief. The pair stranded nine APSU runners.

The win propelled the Golden Eagles (23-21) into second place in the OVC standings with a 9-5 league record with six OVC games remaining in the regular season. Tech plays three at UT Martin next weekend, then returns home to host current league-leader, Murray State, for a three-game set, May 21-22.

Murray State is holding onto first place with am 11-5 record, giving the Racers a .687 winning percentage. The OVC regular season champion is determined by percentage points, since many times not all teams play the same number of games. Tech is second with a .642 mark, followed closely by Southeast Missouri (10-6) with a .625 mark and Jacksonville State (10-7) at .588.

Austin Peay left town with a 22-22 overall record and a 4-11 mark in the OVC.

On Sunday,  Archer blanked the Govs through the first four innings and the Golden Eagles provided runs in each of the first three innings to build a 6-0 lead.

Tech actually scored enough in its three-run first inning for the victory. Austin Wulf and Tate McMillan drew walks off APSU starter Stephen Huff (4-5), and a fielder's choice put runners at the corners with one out. Chad Oberacker continued his torrid season with an RBI bunt single, scoring Wulf. Burgess also singled to load the bases, and Casanova Donaldson punched a single through the right side that plated two more runs for a 3-0 lead.

Huff got into trouble quickly in the second, as well. He hit leadoff hitter Chad Hayes with a 2-0 pitch, then walked Frankie Beech. Wulf moved both runners with a sacrifice bunt and McMillan's groundout scored Hayes. Beech raced home on a wild pith to make it 5-0.

Burgess clobbered a 1-0 pitch over the fence in the left field power alley with one down in the third, making it 6-0.

The Govs got one run off Archer in the top of the fifth. Jared DeLong and Cody Hudson each singled to open the inning, and Reed Harper's groundout chased Delong home to make it 6-1.

The Govs trimmed the deficit to 6-2 with a single run in the top of the seventh off Choate.  With one out, Josh Purcell singled and both Jon Clinard and Chris Lewellyn walked to load the sacks. Matt Kole's groundout scored Purcell, but Choate got the final out with a harmless grounder to first.

Tech chased Huff early in the seventh. After a strikeout to open the inning, Wulf legged out a triple into the gap in right center and McMillan's single up the middle made it 7-1.  That brought in David Vicini, who gave up a single to A.J. Kirby-Jones and a walk to Oberacker to load the bases.

Burgess punched a single to right to score two runs, and bring Jeremy Dobbs from the bullpen for APSU, but he lasted just one batter when he plunked Donaldson on the second pitch. Dylan Ray took over and Devin Rivers greeted him with a sacrifice fly that scored Oberacker to make it 10-2.

Archer worked five innings, allowing just one run on six hits. He walked two and struck out five Gov batters. Choate yielded two hits over his four innings on the hill, giving up one run while walking three and fanning one.

Huff took the loss, going 6 1/3 innings and allowing eight runs on seven hits. He walked three and struck out seven. Dylan, the fourth APSU pitcher of the game, worked 1 2/3 innings of no-hit relief with one strikeout.

Burgess finished with three of Tech's nine hits on a 3-for-4 effort. No other Golden Eagle hitter had more than one hit, but four players reached base twice with a hit and a walk, including Wulf, McMillan, Oberacker and Beech.

No Governor hitter had more than one hit in the game as Austin Peay finished with eight hits, although leadoff hitter Clinard reached base three times with a hit and two walks.

The Golden Eagles will host Middle Tennessee Tuesday at 6 p.m. in Bush Stadium in a nonconference game, before venturing to Martin for the weekend.