By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
MURRAY, Ky. – The free-swinging bats of the Tennessee Tech baseball team left no doubt in earning its 20th straight victory Sunday afternoon, leading the Golden Eagles (29-5, 17-1) to a 23-7 win at Murray State (17-18, 5-10) for the team's fifth consecutive Ohio Valley Conference series sweep.
Tech extended the nation's longest winning streak to a program-best 20 on the day, representing just the second team in OVC history to post at least 20 straight wins in a season and the most since the 1975 Murray State squad won 22 in-a-row.
While the Golden Eagles pounded out 18 hits, they also showed marvelous patience at the plate, drawing 14 walks on the day. That marked the most by a Tech team since 2014 and led to five straight innings of runs to open the game.
Junior John Ham got it started, blasting his 12th home run of the season, a three-run shot, to center field on the first pitch he saw. Senior David Garza made it back-to-back dingers with a solo shot to left field, leading to an early 4-0 lead.
Scoring a single run in each of the second and third frames, the Golden Eagles really blew the game open in the fourth. Senior Chase Chambers worked a brilliant seven-pitch walk with the bases loaded to drive in a run. Ham followed by reaching on an error at shortstop to drive in another.
After a quick out, junior right fielder Nick Osborne delivered the knockout punch, hammering the first offering to left field for a grand slam and 12-0 lead. He added an RBI with a double in the fourth while Brennon Kaleiwahea drove in two in the inning with a double of his own.
In the seventh, Tech scored five more runs, marking the fourth time this season the prolific offense reached at least 20 runs in a game. The highlight of the inning? A three-run moon shot to left field by none other than Osborne.
On the hill, the Golden Eagle received another fantastic performance by their starter, southpaw Alex Hursey. The junior tossed six scoreless frames while holding the Racers to just three hits and pair of walks. He also struck out four batters while moving to 5-2 on the year.
Osborne's performance led the day, as the junior finished 3-for-7 with three runs scored and eight RBI. Ham seemingly scored every time he reached base, denting home plate five times as part of a 3-for-4 performance with four RBI.
Tech will return to action with a pair of midweek match-ups next week, beginning with a road contest at Western Kentucky on Tuesday, Apr. 17. First pitch is set for 5 p.m. CT. The Golden Eagles will also head to Huntsville, Ala. for a 3 p.m. tilt against Alabama A&M on Wednesday.
Photo by Tony Marable