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April 10, 2011

Golden Eagles take the series but fall short, 13-8, in Sunday’s finale

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – After taking a 2-0 lead on their second Ohio Valley Conference series of the season, the Golden Eagles dropped game three to SEMO as the Redhawks scored 13 runs on 14 hits and 10 walks on Sunday afternoon.

The Golden Eagles seemed to be on point after the second inning, answering SEMO's one-run first inning with three in the bottom of the second on a double by Casanova Donaldson and an RBI base-hit by Evan Frazier to start it off. After SEMO's starting pitcher Brad LeBruyere was tagged with an error to yield a second run and Austin Wulf facilitated a fielder's choice RBI, Tech was on top 3-1 headed into the top of the third.

But the third inning would culminated in a brand-new game for both teams, as Kenton Parmley walked and Taylor Heon launched a one-out double into right-center field to put the tying run in scoring position. Michael Adamson earned an RBI on a groundout, while Casey Jones singled up the middle to tie the game at three-all, a score that stood through the bottom of the frame.

SEMO showcased two long, hard-fought innings in the fourth and fifth frames as they started to make their way through the Golden Eagle pitching staff. Blake Slattery led off in the fourth with a double down the left field line, which Tim Rupp followed up with a single that moved Slattery to third for Parmley's sacrifice fly to right field. An fielding error by Tech put runners on the corners for SEMO and another sac fly, this time by Adamson, worked for the two-run, 5-3 lead to the Redhawks.

The lead grew in the fifth as SEMO put up three more runs on just two hits – neither of which worked for runs batted in. Tech's second reliever of the game, Justin Alexander, took over for Nick Price with two-on and one out, and quickly found himself in a two-out, bases loaded situation after Parmley reached on a fielder's choice and stole second, and Heon walked.

Alexander would then walk Adamson for an RBI and plunk Moses for another before Garrett Baugh made his 14th appearance on the year. Baugh walked Jones for a third run before forcing a pop-out by Jesse Tierney to get out of the inning and leave three Redhawk runners hanging out to dry.

With the score sitting at 8-3 to SEMO, Tech was able to match the three-run top of the fifth in the bottom half, cutting the lead to two. Chad Oberacker and Zach Stephens ripped neat base hits to start the inning, and LaBruyere pegged Frazier to put himself in a hole with the bases loaded and one out. A sacrifice fly by Rivers and a triple by Chad Hayes into center field combined for Tech's three of the inning and narrowed the lead to an 8-6 stand.

Tech was able to come within one in the seventh inning when Donaldson scored an unearned run, but Tim Rupp demonstrated his abilities as a clutch hitter for the Redhawks when he single-handedly put up three runs for SEMO in the top of the eighth to extend the lead to 11-7.

Rupp, who went 4-for-5 on the day to lead his team, ripped a deep two-out double to clear the bases and give SEMO some insurance runs after a scoreless half for Tech took the game into the ninth inning.

The Golden Eagles tried next to stifle the SEMO bats with veteran reliever Jared Dobbs, but to no avail as SEMO recorded two more runs on two more hits by Moses and Jones in the top of the ninth to make the score 13-7. Tech put two men on base with one out in the bottom of the ninth and scored one on a SEMO fielding error, but was otherwise unable to put together a rally that would work to complete the sweep on the weekend.

Overall, SEMO worked five Tech pitchers for 14 hits by five batters, led by Rupp with three-hit contributions from Slattery and Moses, and two hits apiece from Heon and Jones. The Redhawks worked the bullpen for an additional 10 free bases, giving up only six walks to the Golden Eagles on the day.

Tech, meanwhile, combined for eight hits on the day but also saw five batters hit six times by the Redhawk pitching staff, with Austin Wulf bearing the burden twice.

Frazier went 2-for-2 at the plate, walking twice and being hit once for a perfect on-base percentage for the day. He contributed one RBI while Devin Rivers notched four of Tech's eight, going 1-for-3 overall. Oberacker contributed a 2-for-4 effort.

Having been responsible for giving up the go-ahead to SEMO (17-14/4-4 after Sunday's game) Nick Price fell to 2-2 on the season in just 1.2 innings pitched, while Logan Mahon got his third save of the year and preserved the win for LeBruyere, who improved to 4-1.

With a new record of 13-16 and an even 3-3 in conference play, the Golden Eagles will hit the road for four straight, starting with a night game in Murfreesboro against the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee on Wednesday at 6 p.m.