By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – A roller coaster ride of a game kicked things off between the Tennessee Tech and Northwestern baseball teams Friday afternoon as the Golden Eagles took the first contest in a three game series, defeating the Wildcats 11-7.
A solo blast off the bat of Brandon Thomasson gave the Tech squad the life it needed to take the lead for good and win its eighth straight contest. The senior's fifth home run of the year propelled the Golden Eagles to a 7-6 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning. Tech tallied four more runs across the rest of the game while surrendering just one in the top of the ninth.
The Golden Eagles got off to rough start before the game even started, having to scratch junior Chris Chism less than 10 minutes before first-pitch due to an injury. Relief pitcher Jacob Honea did his best in the spot start, but struggled to locate after rushing through barely five minutes of warm-up time. He surrendered just two runs on the mound, allowing no hits while walking three.
Austin Tolle came on in relief of Honea, tossing four innings out of the pen and really helping the Tech staff limit the workload. He gave up just three hits and one earned run while striking out a game-high four.
Five more pitchers combined to cover the final five outs of the game, including junior Jeb Scoggins, who collected his first career win with two innings of two-hit ball in relief of Tolle. Also part of that group, junior closer Seth Lucio notched his third save of the season, recording the final two outs to guide Tech to its ninth win of the season.
Runs fell for both teams early in the contest, as Northwestern built a two-run lead after the first half inning. The Golden Eagles quickly answered, striking across three themselves in the bottom half off back-to-back doubles from Thomasson and shortstop Dylan Bosheers.
The Wildcats tied things up in the second with a lone run, but Tech answered with two more runs to take a 5-3 advantage after two innings, this time off a double from center fielder Jake Rowland.
Enter the fourth inning and Northwestern jumped out on top again, scratching three across to take force another lead change. With the Wildcats on top, 6-5, Zach Zarzour laced a double off the left center field wall, missing a dinger by inches, to set up slugger Zach Stephens. The senior delivered with an RBI single through the left side to even things for the last time, at 6-6.
Thomasson crushed his towering shot over the left field wall in the bottom of the fifth to give Tech the lead for good, pushing the Golden Eagles out front, 7-6.
Four more runs in the seventh and eighth innings proved to be enough to hold off Northwestern, which attempted a late rally in the ninth.
Game two of the series is set for a 2 p.m. CT start Saturday, as Golden Eagle junior David Hess takes on Northwestern lefty Matt Portland at Bush Stadium at the Averitt Express Baseball Complex.