By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The No. 19 Tennessee Tech baseball team made history yet again Saturday afternoon, as the Golden Eagles (43-6, 24-2) defeated Eastern Kentucky (26-25, 15-11) at Bush Stadium at the Averitt Express Baseball Complex.
Not only did the victory extend the program record for wins to 43, it also represented the team's 24th Ohio Valley Conference victory of the year, tying the league record established by the 2013 Tech squad.
Just like Friday night, the Golden Eagles jumped on the scoreboard first. Center fielder Alex Junior led off the bottom half by drawing a walk. On the next pitch, senior catcher Brennon Kaleiwahea rifled a line drive off the center field wall for an RBI triple.
In the top of the third, Eastern Kentucky took advantage of a pair of Tech miscues, plating two, unearned runs to take a 2-1 lead. The Golden Eagle defense recovered in the inning making two strong defensive plays, including Kaleiwahea throwing out a would-be base stealer.
The veteran backstop then provided another boost for the Golden Eagle offense, leading off the top of the third with a solo blast to right center field to tie the game. Junior Kevin Strohschein drew a walk before the first out of the inning could be recorded, setting up junior John Ham for some fireworks.
Ham turned on the first pitch he saw and hammered a two-run no-doubter to left field, his 13th long ball of the season. The shot provided Tech a 4-2 lead in the third.
Eastern Kentucky cut the lead to one with a solo home run in the fifth and then tied the game again in the seventh with a suicide squeeze bunt. Once again, the Golden Eagles answered, gathering a hit from Kaleiwahea and massive, two-out walk by senior Chase Chambers.
After a pitching change, Ham delivered the winning hit, singling through the left side to drive in Kaleiwahea for the go-ahead run.
Junior Ethan Roberts closed down the final two frames after surrendering the run in the seventh, earning his fourth victory of the season. The Sparta native tossed three innings in total, scattering three hits while striking out three.
Senior hurler Marcus Evey received a no decision on the day, completing the first six innings of action while allowing three runs, just one earned, and only six hits. He struck out eight Colonels without a walk.
Kaleiwahea finished 3-for-4 on the day with two RBI, two runs scored and just a double shy of the cycle. Ham and senior Collin Harris each also finished with a pair of hits in the contest, with Ham tallying a game-high three RBI.
With the win, Tech clinched its 10th consecutive series win and 12th overall this season. The Golden Eagles will look for the series sweep as the two teams square off on Sunday at 1 p.m. CT. The contest will also represent Senior Day, with the seven senior members of the team being honored in a pregame ceremony.
Photo by Tony Marable