By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
JACKSONVILLE, Ala. – The No. 7 Tennessee Tech softball team will live to play another day in the 2014 OVC Tournament, rallying to defeat No. 6 UT Martin, 5-3, in the tourney's first elimination game. The Golden Eagles (24-34) will now take on the loser of No. 4 Murray State and No. 1 Jacksonville at 10 a.m. CT on Friday, while the Skyhawks end their season at 27-27-1.
Squared away at 3-3 in the top of the sixth, junior Angi Sakamoto delivered the game's biggest knock, singling down the right field line with two outs to plate junior Hannah Eldridge and sophomore Samantha Cook to give TTU a 5-3 lead.
Sakamoto's clutch hit was one of two for the Waipahu, Hawaii native after she jumped the Golden Eagles on top in the third inning with a two-run laser shot over the right field fence to give Tech a 3-2 advantage. The home run broke a tie with seniors Kendall Hooper and Chelsea Burgess for the team lead as Sakamoto now has seven on the year.
The blast capped off a string of three consecutive Golden Eagle runs after sophomore Cortney Fry went yard in the top of the second to cut the deficit to 2-1 after Martin scored two unearned runs in the first, serving as the first Tech player to reach base after the first five were set down in order. The home run was the third in the last seven games for the Fort Worth, Texas native, and was one of three hits in the game for Fry.
Freshman Danielle Liberatore (14-11) recorded the win for Tech, going the distance and allowing just one earned run, a game-tying solo home run by Renate Meckl in the bottom of the fourth to deadlock the score at 3-3. In total, Liberatore scattered six hits, walked four, and struck out seven for her ninth OVC victory in her last 10 outings.
Freshman Elizabeth Wiegand was tagged with the loss, pitching into the seventh inning and allowing five runs (three earned) on 11 hits.
Tech pounded out 12 hits in the win, with four Golden Eagles earning multi-hit performances in Sakamoto, Fry, Eldridge, and freshman Alyssa Richards.
TTU will play its second consecutive elimination game on Friday at 10 a.m. CT, taking on the loser of No. 4 Murray State and No. 1 Jacksonville State. A Golden Eagle win would give them another crack at keeping their season alive as Tech would play a second game on Friday with first pitch scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
Live audio via the Golden Eagle Sports Network on FM 106.1 The Eagle will be available as well as a free video stream through the OVC Digital Network.