By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
JACKSON, Tenn. – A masterful performance from top to bottom left little doubt that the Tennessee Tech baseball team has entered the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament on a mission, as the Golden Eagles (39-17) handled the Morehead State Eagles (29-27) with precision Friday afternoon in a 14-2 victory at The Ballpark at Jackson.
Between a rock star performance on the mound from junior ace David Hess and a batter-by-batter display of pure hitting, the Tech squad advanced to the semifinals of the OVC Tournament for the second straight season after receiving a bye in the first round as the No. 2 seed.
With the victory, the Golden Eagles will play at approximately 7 p.m. Friday evening and will face off against the winner of tonight's contest between No. 1 Southeast Missouri and No. 6 Eastern Illinois. The game can once again be followed live on both the OVC Digital Network and on FM 106.1 The Eagle.
Even without a usually normal dominant performance, Hess labored and battled through six scoreless innings, holding the Eagle bats to just two hits. Morehead managed just five base knocks in the contest despite entering the game averaging over 14 hits over its past seven affairs. The junior did surrender four walks and a hit batter, but he also pounded the strike zone to a tune of six strikeouts and the all-important victory, his ninth of the season.
And if the outstanding work provided on the mound wasn't enough, the Tennessee Tech offense more than made up for any questions still hanging around. The Golden Eagles exploded for 16 hits and 14 runs just a week after totaling just 10 runs in three games at Belmont. More impressively, the first 11 runs of the contest came with two outs on the scoreboard, proving the clutch factor that exists in the Tech bats.
The squad was led by senior slugger Daniel Miles (left), a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy and member of the Midseason Golden Spikes Award Watch List. The third baseman went 2-for-3 at the plate, highlighted by a mammoth-sized home run over the 24-foot wall in left field. The three-run shot, which is the only long ball hit in the tournament thus far, capped a four-run second inning that gave the Tech pitching staff plenty of room to work through the rest of the game.
Miles finished with four RBI in the contest, as well as three runs scored and three walks. Joining his teammate on the left side of the infield with a huge day with the bat was shortstop Dylan Bosheers. The junior collected a game-high four hits in five at bats, plating three while scoring one more himself.
Senior slugger Brandon Thomasson managed one hit in five trips to the plate, making extra noise by emptying the bases with a three-run double to center field, blowing the game wide open and essentially shutting the door on any comeback attempt by the Eagles.
Catcher Jordan Hopkins added two RBI with a 2-for-4 performance at the dish while senior first baseman Zach Stephens scored three runs despite no hits. The slugger drew two walks and reach on an error in the first inning. Leadoff man Zach Zarzour tallied three hits in six at bats, scoring twice with an RBI.
Morehead State shortstop Robby Spencer managed a hit, a run, and an RBI in leading the offense for the Eagles. Chris Robinson added the other RBI with a hit in five trips to the batters box.
With the victory, Hess moved into a tie for third most victories in a single season in Tech history, joining Tech greats such as Tristan Archer, Lee Henry, and Todd Kemp, among others. He now owns 97 strikeouts on the year, tied for the fourth most in a single season with Archer (2013) and Donnie Long (2001).