Burgess Bruises Bruins; walk-off homer gives Tech 9-8 victory
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Ben Burgess' solo shot in the bottom of the ninth gave Tennessee Tech the 9-8 win and season sweep over Belmont in Bush Stadium in Tuesday's contest under the lights on Student-Athlete Appreciation Day.
The junior catcher, who launched the game-winning long-ball over the right-field wall with a no outs and a two-two count, went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and a solo RBI on the day, one that proved to be the most important of Tech's nine earned runs on 14 hits on the evening.
But although Burgess can claim responsibility for the game-winning run, a true team effort - including a grand-slam by Casanova Donaldson in the bottom of the fourth inning that helped to turn a one-all tie into a 6-1 lead for the Golden Eagles - propelled Tech to the win in front of a student-athlete laden crowd.
Belmont took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first though, putting the first of seven unearned runs on the board when Derek Hamblen read first on a fielding error a scored on a double into center field by Nate Woods. The Golden Eagles were able to answer in the bottom of the second though; Zach Stephens and Chad Hayes singled, and the Bruins loaded the bases on a walk to Burgess. A fielder's choice play put Devin Rivers on first and scored Stephens to tie the game at 1-1 before the real damage was done in the bottom of the fourth frame.
The Bruins replaced starter James Buckelew with Dalton Bell, who gave up a one-out single to Burgess, walked Rivers and surrendered another single to Michael Morris which served to score Burgess and give Tech a 2-1 lead.
Bell was then replaced by Ross Beach, who moved both men on into scoring position on a wild pitch and plunked Austin Wulf to load the bases for Donaldson. Cass laid into the first pitch of his at-bat for a grand slam, the 35th in Tech history, giving the Golden Eagles a hefty 6-1 lead.
His efforts were nearly overshadowed however, as Belmont logged six more unearned runs in the sixth inning. Another fielding error put Zac Mitchell on base with one out, and a single by Dylan Craig put runners on the corners. A wild pitch moved Craig to second and a walked to Woods loaded the bases. The second error of the inning, coming with two outs posted, allowed two runs to score and put Akers on base.
Tim Egerton then ripped a bases-clearing two-shot double, and Greg Brody homered to record another two unearned and giving Belmont a 7-6 lead which they would extend to 8-6 in the seventh on a solo shot by Egerton.
Egerton's efforts at the plate led the Bruins, as he went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and three RBI.
Tech made some line-up changes that put Oberacker on the mound and brought Tevis Sherfield out of the dugout and into the line-up, where he delivered in the bottom of the seventh with a lead-off double. Hayes followed up with a double of his own to cut the lead 8-7.
Sherfield came up big again in the eighth inning when he notched an RBI single with the bases loaded to tie the game at eight-all and set Burgess up for his game-winner in the ninth.
Eight Golden Eagle batters combined for the team's 14 hits. Donaldson went 2-for-4 with a run scored and four RBI to lead the team in scoring, while Sherfield's perfect 2-for-2 yielded an RBI and Hayes' 3-for-5 efforts chipped in an RBI as well. Austin Wulf joined the multi-hit ranks with two hits in four at-bats.
Oberacker got his first win of the season, improving to 1-2 finishing out the final three innings of the game and getting three Ks under his belt. Blake Harvey was tagged for the loss, falling to 0-1 on the year after just one inning of work.
The Golden Eagles will head to Morehead State this weekend for a three-game series starting on Friday with a double-header stand beginning at 12 p.m., and finishing up on Saturday with another 12 p.m. game.