By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – For the third straight year, a match-up between baseball teams of Tennessee Tech and Belmont went to extra innings. And for the second time in that span, the Golden Eagles (39-6, 21-2) came out on top, earning a 9-6 victory over the Bruins (16-30, 10-16) at E.S. Rose Park in Nashville Saturday evening.
Belmont plate two runs in the bottom of the ninth to tie things at 5-5 and both teams had their chances in extras to take control. It was the Golden Eagles who capitalized, plating four in the top of the 12th inning to make it 30 wins it their last 30 games.
Senior Brennon Kaleiwahea led off the frame with single to right field. Fellow senior Collin Harris laid down a sacrifice bunt, but would reach anyway on a fielder's choice. A Belmont error not only allowed Kaleiwahea to reach second safely, but also round and make it to third with no outs.
After a quick out, another Tech senior took his turn at the dish, Trevor Putzig. Harris stole second to prevent the double play opportunity and Putzig came through on a 2-2 offering, sending a sacrifice fly ball to right field for the go-ahead RBI.
Having subbed into the game in the 11th, sophomore Anthony Carrera turned in some huge insurance, ripping an RBI double to center field to drive in what would turn out to be the game-winning run. After an intentional walk to senior Chase Chambers, who had already recorded three hits on the day, junior second baseman John Ham poured on the gravy, lacing a two-run double to left field for a 9-5 lead.
Belmont snagged back a run in the bottom half after a lead-off triple and eventual RBI ground out, but junior right fielder-turned-pitcher Nick Osborne finished the Bruins off with a strikeout for the Golden Eagle win.
The Tech defense and pitching was paramount to the victory, particularly in the extra frames. Despite surrendering the game-tying runs in the ninth, the Golden Eagles worked out of a bases-loaded jam with just a single out. Ethan Roberts forced a ground ball to Putzig at third base, who smartly tossed it home for the force out. Roberts then induced an inning-ending grounder to shortstop.
In the 11th, Belmont gathered a one-out triple to put the winning run just 90 feet away. After a walk to the next batter, Osborne came in from right field to take over on the hill. On just his second pitch, the right-hander induced a ground ball to Garza at shortstop. Garza flipped it to Ham at second who turned the huge inning-ending double play with a rifle throw to Chambers at first base.
Osborne earned his first win of the season with one and two thirds innings of work. Putzig finished with three RBI on the day, including a two-run home run in the first inning, his 14th of the year. Garza also finished with three RBI, hammering a three-run bomb in the sixth for his 13th long ball of the season.
With the win, Tech clinched its ninth consecutive series win and 11th overall this season. The Golden Eagles will look for the series sweep as the two teams square off on Sunday at 2 p.m. CT.
Photo by Tony Marable