By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - Friday evening featured it all. A pitcher's duel, two offensive explosions, a late rally, and a championship celebration. Unfortunately for the Tennessee Tech baseball team, that last item belonged to Southeast Missouri as the Redhawks defeated the Golden Eagles, 12-8, to clinch the 2014 Ohio Valley Conference regular season title.
What looked to be a fight between the two starting pitchers, quickly turned into an offensive showdown. Southeast Missouri led 1-0 through four innings and even the 3-1 advantage after five seemed worthy of two solid pitching performances.
The sixth inning changed things quickly as the OVC's top two offensive teams woke up, combining for 11 runs in the frame.
Already leading by two, the Redhawks saw the bases loaded with just two outs and seemed destined to follow a theme that plagued both teams, stranding runners on base (the two squads combined to strand 24 runners on the day). Back-to-back walks issued by the Golden Eagle pitching staff led to two easy runs before Redhawk Derek Gibson cleared the bases with a three-run double. The hit gave Southeast Missouri an 8-1 lead that seemed sure to be more than enough to secure the championship.
But Tech has a potent offense too and the team proved it quickly in the bottom half of the sixth. Following a leadoff walk and quick fly out, senior catcher Jordan Parris became the spark plug for a big rally, launching a two-run bomb to left field that instantly cut the Redhawk lead to 8-3.
Leadoff man Zach Zarzour followed with a walk, setting up senior slugger Zach Stephens for a huge at bat. The first baseman hammered a two-run home run, his 14th of the year, to left center field to chip the lead to 8-5. And Tech wasn't done.
Seniors Daniel Miles and Brandon Thomasson followed the leader, each doubling in the next two at bats. Miles came in to trim Southeast Missouri's advantage to just two. Shortstop Dylan Bosheers singled in Thomasson, bringing the Golden Eagles within one run.
But the magic would end there. The Redhawks scored three in the seventh inning and one more in the eighth, ending Tech's hopes at both a win and second consecutive regular season championship.
Both Gibson and first baseman Matt Tellor drove in three runs for the Redhawks, leading their team to its 22nd OVC win of the year. Christian Hull earned the victory, pitching an inning of relief of starter Tyler Iago.
Seven Tech starters collected at least one hit in the game with four recording multi-hit performances. Parris, Thomasson, and Stephens each had two RBI on the day while Miles went 2-for-3 with a walk and two hit-by-pitches.
Game two of the series is currently scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. CT at Bush Stadium Saturday afternoon.