MURRAY, Ky. – Freshman Justin Alexander notched his first career save in 3.2 innings of work as he and the rest of the Golden Eagle defense stifled a steady, mid-game rally by the Thoroughbreds of Murray State in Saturday's game three.
The Golden Eagles built to a dominating 9-1 lead over the first three innings of play, which included an especially strong second inning that lit up the scoreboard with five runs, three of which came off of Casanova Donaldson's inside the park, two out homer.
Shuemaker gave up the first (unearned) run of the game in the first inning, when he plunked Austin Wulf to put him on base for Frankie Beech to sacrifice over the second. He continued to allow Wulf to circle the paths, putting him on third on a wild pitch and then finally sending him across the plate with a passed ball. The Breds went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the frame, and the Tech worked Shuemaker thoroughly in the top of the second.
With two outs and Devin Rivers on first on a fielder's choice play, Chad Hayes and Austin Wulf combined for back-to-back base hits, Wulf's working for the first RBI of the inning. Frankie Beech followed up with a double to score Hayes and put two on for Donaldson's shot into center field, an inside the park round-tripper that set the score at 5-0 in favor of Tech.
The Tech batting order continued to strike in the third inning, this time working Murray's third pitcher of the day, Tyler Beers, for three runs on two hits, including a double by Devin Rivers and a two-on, two RBI single up the middle by Chad Hayes. Beech chipped in again with a sacrifice fly for the final run of the inning, giving Tech the 8-1 lead.
Donaldson's 1-for-4, three RBI effort paced the Golden Eagle's scoring efforts on the day, while Hayes' 2-for-3 show at the plate yielded two more of Tech's 10 runs on the day.
Meanwhile, Tech starter Nick Price held the 'Breds to just one run over the first four innings of play before the Breds started their climb back into the game in the bottom of the fifth, which commenced three straight innings of scoring for Murray.
The Thoroughbreds put three runs on the board in both the bottom of the fifth and sixth innings. With two outs on the board in the fifth, Wes Warren walked and Elliot Frey singled up the middle, pushing Warren to third. Two consecutive doubles into left center field by Ty Stetson and Brandon Elliott paired for the three runs of the inning, cutting the lead to 8-4.
More of the same followed in the sixth, as Price surrendered three more runs on four hits, including a three-shot homer by Cody Larson before being replaced by Alexander. Price tossed 5.1 innings for the Golden Eagles, allowing seven runs on seven hits and striking out two.
With a score now narrowed to 9-7 in favor of Tech, the Golden Eagles were able to notch a little bit of insurance with one run in the top of the seventh, while Alexander's efforts on the mound allowed the 'Breds to only match that, leaving the final score at 10-8 to Tech, denying Murray the sweep on the weekend. Alexander picked up the save on the day, the first of his career, preserving the win for Price, who improved to 4-4 on the season. Shuemaker shouldered the loss for Murray after his detrimental start, falling to 4-6 on the year.
Zach Noonan went 3-for-5 at the plate for Murray to post one RBI, while Elliot and Larson had multi-RBI efforts with one hit apiece on the day.
The Golden Eagles, now 24-27 overall, 12-12 in the OVC, will now get set to head to Jackson, Tenn., for the post-season tournament. Seeded fourth in the field, Tech will take on no. 5 Eastern Kentucky in Wednesday's 3 p.m. afternoon game.