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March 1, 2011

Baseball bounces back with a 9-7 road win over Belmont

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Both teams had a slug-fest in the seventh inning to tie the game at seven all, but the Golden Eagles pulled through in the top of the ninth to secure the 9-7 victory on Tuesday evening.

After a slow first two innings, Tech racked up a 4-1 lead over the next four to build upon when the seventh rolled around, kicked off by nine-hole hitter Chad Hayes. Hayes' ripped a base hit into right field and advanced into scoring position with the second out of the third inning to set himself up for lead-off hitter Austin Wulf to bring him home. Wulf notched an RBI single to put Tech on the board first, 1-0.

The bottom of the Golden Eagle order struck again in the top of the fifth when freshman Zach Flynn singled to center field, and Hayes followed up with his first triple of the season to score Flynn, and then came across home himself on Chad Oberacker's sacrifice bunt to give Tech a 3-0 lead.

A sacrifice fly in the bottom half of the inning by Belmont's Dylan Craig narrowed the lead to 3-1, but the Golden Eagles notched another run in the top of the sixth, this time fueled by freshman phenom Zach Stephens. The power hitter launched his first hit of the game up the middle for a base hit and advanced to second on a single by Casanova Donaldson. The third hit of the inning was a sharp double down the right field line by Zephan Guyear to score Stephens and give Tech the 4-1 lead.

Stephens however was just getting warmed up, as he showcased his talent as the team's newest power-hitter with a two-on, two-out homer to rack up a 7-1 lead for the Golden Eagles headed into the bottom of the inning. He went 2-for-4 on the day to lead Tech with three RBI's, notching his sixth multi-hit game of the season and eighth straight game with a hit.

But the "seventh inning stretch" obviously worked for Belmont.

In the bottom half of the inning, the Bruins worked freshmen pitchers Jake McWhirter and Justin Alexander for four runs on four hits to tie the game at seven-all. Zac Mitchell, Derek Hamblen and Craig loaded the bases with one out, and Alexander nicked the next two runners, Nate Woods and Mike Zeblo to bring in the first two runs of the inning.

The Bruins followed up with a two-RBI single from Tim Egerton before veteran reliever Wade Bilbrey entered the game for Alexander. Bilbrey walked in a run, induced a pop-up and walked in another before notching the inning-ending strikeout on the twelfth batter up.

Tech remained undaunted though, and responded in the ninth when Stephens worked Matt Hamann for a walk to put Austin Wulf, who reached on an error, on third and Ben Burgess, the tying run, in scoring position. Jon Ivie, in relief for Hamann, walked in Wulf and Devin Rivers notched a SAC fly to bring in Burgess and give Tech the eventual 9-7 win.

McWhirter earned his first collegiate win with 6.1 innings of work, striking out seven. Sophomore Tristan Archer got his first save in one inning of work, throwing just nine pitches and striking out one. Hamann shouldered the loss for the Bruins.

With the win, the Golden Eagles return home with an improved record of 2-6, while the Bruins fell to 3-6 on the season. Tech takes on Barea College on Wednesday at 3 p.m. in Bush Stadium.