By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – Another spectacular day with the bats propelled the Tennessee Tech baseball team to a pair of victories Friday, as the Golden Eagles swept a doubleheader with Southeast Missouri at Capaha Filed, winning by scores of 9-3 and 13-8.
Game one started with a pair of strong pitching efforts. Senior Andrew O'Dwyer (1-0) earned the victory after tossing five innings and holding the Redhawks (16-23, 6-14) to just two runs on five hits. He also struck out three in the contest.
Junior Jacob Cole wiped out the final four frames for the Golden Eagles (17-19, 5-12), limiting the home team to one more run on three hits. He also earned his first Division I save in the contest.
Tech eased into its offensive ways, scoring single runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings behind an RBI single from freshman John Dyer, a solo home run from freshman JD Funk and a sac fly from Dyer. Heading into the sixth, the purple and gold held a 3-2 advantage.
And then the offense caught fire. With runners on second and third to lead off the sixth and a pitching change finishing up, Funk turned in a huge hit as part of a career day at the plate. The rookie laced a double to right field, driving in a pair to increase the Tech lead to 5-2.
Later in the frame, after the Redhawks intentionally walked All-American Kevin Strohschein with two outs, sophomore Jason Hinchman made them pay. The first baseman ripped his own double to right center to plate two more and give Tech a 7-2 lead.
SEMO snagged a run back in the sixth, but Tech gave insurance in the ninth to seal the deal. Hinchman clobbered his Ohio Valley Conference-leading 17th home run to left center field to lead off the inning. Back-to-back singles by Dyer and junior Anthony Carrera provided second baseman Nathan McMeans the chance for an RBI fielder's choice.
In game two, the fire turned into a volcano as the Golden Eagles erupted for seven runs in the top of the first inning. The first nine Tech batters reached base and chased the first Redhawk hurler from the game without recording an out. Shortstop Hunter Higdon and Strohschein each singled to the outfield to lead off the contest. Hinchman followed with a walk to load the bases.
Dyer continued his incredible rookie campaign with an RBI single to left field, keeping the bases loaded for Carrera. The right fielder delivered the big blow of the inning, hammering a grand slam to left field for his 10th long ball of the season.
Three straight singles by McMeans, junior Gavin Johns and Funk loaded the bases again, allowing freshman Jason Hogan to draw a bases-loaded walk and forced a pitching change. One more run would score before the top of the first would end with a 7-0 Tech lead.
The Redhawks scored a pair in the bottom half, but freshman Thomas Saliba gave the Golden Eagles four innings of work in the contest, never relinquishing the lead. SEMO scored twice more in the second, cutting the initial Tech advantage to 7-4.
The Golden Eagles bounced back in the third, with Funk at the forefront of the scoring again. The designated hitter singled to left field to drive in a run. Higdon followed a few batters later with a sacrifice bunt leading to another RBI. Then, following a Strohschein single off the pitcher, Hinchman cranked a double down the left field line to seal the contest with an 11-4 lead.
Southeast Missouri would go on to score three more times in the third, but Saliba got Tech out of the inning. Daniel Holley took over from there covering the next three innings while holding the Redhawks to one run on two hits. He earned his first victory of the year with the performance. Tyler Sylvester finished off the final two frames, allowing just a single hit and striking out three.
Funk led off the seventh inning with his second dinger of the day, a solo shot to left field. Johns would drive in a solo run in the eighth with a bases loaded walk to provide the 13 runs for Tech.
On the day, Funk finished 6-for-10 with five RBI, two home runs a double and four runs scored. Hinchman collected four hits in seven at bats, while drawing three walks and getting plunked by a pitch. He drove in five while scoring twice with two doubles and a bomb.
Also a big part of the day was Strohschein continuing his run at history. The senior center fielder collected three hits, tying for the most in a career in league history with 330.
The Golden Eagles will look for their first OVC series sweep of the year on Saturday when the two teams meet up for a 2:00 p.m. CT affair.
Photos by Tony Marable