By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – A furious rally from the Tennessee Tech baseball team cape up just short Sunday afternoon, as the Golden Eagles (32-14, 18-3) dropped their Ohio Valley Conference series finale at Southeast Missouri (22-20, 12-12) by a final score of 11-9.
Looking for its sixth series sweep in league play, the Tech squad actually squared off with the Redhawks in the finale of three contests on Saturday, with the game representing the second of a doubleheader. One batter into the bottom of the fifth frame, lightning took over the Capaha Field area and forced the contest into postponement until Sunday.
With rain and inclement area in the region early in the day, the contest finally resumed at 3 p.m. CT Sunday afternoon.
The Golden Eagles took the early lead on Saturday, plating three runs in the first inning behind the power of home runs from sophomore outfielder Kevin Strohschein (a two-run shot) and junior first baseman Chase Chambers (a solo bomb). SEMO quickly answered, scoring twice in the bottom half to snip the Tech lead to one.
Junior third baseman Trevor Putzig led off the third inning with the team's third long ball of the day, but the Redhawks captured the lead in their next shot with the sticks, scoring three times in the bottom of the frame for a 5-4 advantage.
The two sides traded zeroes in the fourth and Southeast Missouri worked a quick top of the fifth before the weather forced the lengthy delay. Returning to play with a SEMO runner on second due to a leadoff double on Saturday, the Golden Eagles worked out of a jam to keep the home squad from adding to its lead.
Tech's first batter after the resumption of play, Chambers, took the second pitch he saw and clobbered over the right field wall for his second dinger of the day, tying the game at 5-5.
The Redhawks attacked relentlessly in the bottom half, however, scoring four times to jump back on top, 9-5. The Golden Eagles snagged a run in the seventh on a wild pitch, but SEMO collected its own run in the seventh to keep it at a four-run lead.
Southeast Missouri expanded that advantage to 11-6 with another marker in the eighth, giving little hope to the purple and gold with just three outs to go.
The visitor bats made the most of their opportunity, however, unleashing a quick salvo of hits to inch back into the game. Sophomore outfielder Alex Junior led off the inning with a single through the left side. He promptly scored as Putzig wacked an RBI double to left field, his second two-bagger of the day.
Two batters later, junior designated hitter Ryan Flick took his turn to crush the ball over the fence, tattooing a two-run moon shot to left field to cut the deficit to 11-9.
The Redhawks turned to reliever Joey Burris to collect the final two outs, which the right-hander did to earn his second save of the year.
The loss marked just the third suffered by the Golden Eagles in OVC play this season.
Offensively, Putzig had the game to remember, finishing 5-for-5 with four runs scored, two RBI and just a triple shy of the cycle. Flick, Chambers and shortstop David Garza each also recorded multi-hit contests, while Strohschein, Flick and Chambers each compiled multiple RBI.
The Golden Eagles will return home to Bush Stadium at the Averitt Express Baseball Complex Friday, May 5 for a 6 p.m. CT tilt with in-state rival Belmont, kicking off a three-game OVC series.
Photo by Jim Dillon