By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The opening of Ohio Valley Conference play went well for the Tennessee Tech baseball team Friday, as the Golden Eagles earned a doubleheader sweep over in-state rival UT Martin at Bush Stadium at the Averitt Express Baseball Complex.
Tech (9-4, 2-0) edged the Skyhawks (2-12, 0-2) took game one of the day, 13-11, and followed with a 12-5 victory in the second contest.
A three-run home run in the fourth inning of game one gave UT Martin its first and only lead of the day, a 3-2 advantage that Tech would quickly erase. In the bottom of the fifth, the Golden Eagles showed why they entered the day ranked as arguably the nation's top offense, plating six runs to take the lead for good.
Sophomore Anthony Carrera kicked off the frame, smashing his first home run of the season to right center field. Brennon Kaleiwahea followed with a double down the left field line. Alex Junior laid down a perfect bunt for a single down the third base line, setting up Trevor Putzig for a two-run double down the left field line.
Tech gathered three more runs in the bottom of the sixth, including two off a two-run single through the right side from Kevin Strohschein.
UT Martin mounted a comeback, pulling within one run in the top of the eighth, making it an 11-10 contest. Ham provided the Golden Eagles with a pair of crucial insurance runs, blasting his second two-run dinger of the game, this one to center field.
The Skyhawks managed a solo shot in the ninth, but junior closer Ethan Roberts avoided any further damage in securing his third save of the season. All four outs recorded by Roberts came via the strikeout. Travis Moths earned his third victory of the season after tossing six and one third innings and striking out nine batters.
It was the pitching that carried the Golden Eagles early in the second contest, as junior Marcus Evey turned in easily one of the best performances of his career. Making just his second career start, the right-hander struck out a whopping 13 batters in five and two thirds innings to garner his first win of the season. He allowed just four hits, one walk and three earned runs.
A close contest early, Tech blew open the contest from a 3-1 lead to a 7-1 advantage in the fifth. David Garza drove two runs in on a double to left field. Collin Harris followed with an RBI triple down the right field line and then scored on a ground out by Carrera.
The Skyhawks would plate two in the sixth, but the Golden Eagles quickly answered with three more in the bottom half. For the third time on the day, Ham crushed a long ball, this time a two-run jack job off the batter's eye in dead center field. Garza would later score on a balk to make it a 10-3 game.
Both sides traded a pair of runs down the stretch, with Tech coming out on top 12-5. Ty King earned his first save of the year after completing the final three and one third innings out of the bullpen.
The Golden Eagles and Skyhawks are set to match-up in the series finale Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. CT at Quillen Field.
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information