By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
CHARLESTON, Ill. – The second-longest winning streak in the nation officially reached 10 games Friday afternoon, as the Tennessee Tech baseball team (19-5, 9-1) claimed a 9-3, Ohio Valley Conference victory at Eastern Illinois (9-15, 1-6).
The Golden Eagles earned their seventh consecutive win in league play behind a healthy dose of offense and some good pitching from a pair of arms. Senior starter Travis Moths garnered his NCAA-leading sixth victory of the season while junior closer Ethan Roberts earned his sixth save of the year.
Moths tossed five and two thirds innings on the day, limiting the Panthers to just five hits and two earned runs with a pair of strikeouts. He moved to 6-1 on the season, tying for the national lead for victories.
Roberts struck out the first five batters he faced while closing out the final three and one third innings. He allowed just two hits, a walk and a single earned run while finishing with seven total punch outs. In claiming his sixth save of the year, he also moved within one of tying the Golden Eagle program record for career saves. His 21 saves trails only former Tech closer Seth Lucio, who was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 2014 MLB First Year Player Draft.
As for the offense, the Tech lineup pounded out 14 hits for its nine runs while also drawing six walks, despite being held scoreless over the first four frames.
The Golden Eagles finally dented home plate with a pair of runs in the fifth, scoring the first on an RBI fielder's choice off the bat of junior Alex Junior. Fellow junior Kevin Strohschein followed two batters later with an RBI single.
Tech snagged another run in the sixth thanks to an RBI double from junior Nick Osborne, taking an important 3-0 lead. Eastern Illinois answered in the bottom half, scoring twice with two outs to make it a game. Roberts came on in relief and promptly picked up the third out with a strikeout.
Then the Tech bats really went to work. After a leadoff single to right field by Junior, senior Trevor Putzig blasted his seventh home run of the season to left field for a 5-3 lead.
Strohschein followed with a base knock and senior Chase Chambers earned a four-pitch walk to keep the momentum rolling. Two batters later, senior shortstop David Garza broke the game wide open, connecting on a 2-2 offering for his fourth long ball of the season, a three-run shot to left center field.
Garza finished 3-for-5 with three runs scored and three RBI while Putzig earned a 2-for-4 showing with three RBI and a pair of walks. Strohschein kept his hot start to the year going with a 3-for-6 day at the dish and Osborne joined him with a 3-for-4 performance at the plate.
The two teams will attempt to play game two of the series Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. CT. Fans are encouraged to check social media and the TTUSports.com website for more updates concerning this weekend's schedule.
Photo by Tony Marable