By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech baseball team got its home run to continue its historic streak, but couldn't get the win in its Ohio Valley Conference series-opener against Belmont Friday afternoon, falling to the Bruins 11-7.
The league's current leader coming into the weekend, Belmont (21-20, 15-7) took an early lead, striking in both the first and seconds inning for a 3-0 advantage. In the fourth, Tech (17-23, 5-14) got on the board for the first time.
All-American Kevin Strohschein led off the frame with a single through the left side. After advancing to second on a ground out for the second out, he took off on a wild pitch, rounded third and managed to tip-toe around a tag at the plate for the first Golden Eagle run of the game.
Belmont looked to blow the game open in the sixth, scoring three times to take a 6-1 lead, but the Golden Eagles had an answer with three of their own.
Again, Strohschein led off the inning with a hit, this time blooping a double to center field. Following two outs and a hit-by-pitch drawn by John Dyer, second baseman Nathan McMeans legged out an infield hit to first base. His speed led to an errant throw attempt after he reached, allowing him to make it to second a Strohschein to score.
Next up, junior Gavin Johns ripped a single through the right side, plating both Dyer and McMeans to cut the Belmont lead to just two runs.
The Bruins grabbed an insurance run in the seventh and then broke out in the eighth, scoring four times to open an 11-7 lead. Tech took back one run in the eighth thanks to a bases-loaded walk drawn by freshman Jason Hogan.
Tech tried to mount a rally in the ninth, as Strohschein once again led off the frame with a hit. He smashed a laser down the left field line, clearing the fence for his 11th home run of the year and 58th of his career, putting him just four behind former Golden Eagle great Zach Stephens' OVC record of 62.
It also represented Tech's 16th straight game with a long ball, continuing the program record for games in-a-row with a bomb. A few batters later, after Jason Hinchman was hit by a pitch, junior Anthony Carrera blistered a single through the right side to drive in another Tech run.
In the contest, senior Andrew O'Dwyer put in a tough five innings on the hill, allowing five runs while striking out a career-high seven batters. Redshirt freshman Connor Adams struck out three in one inning of work.
Strohschein finished the contest an impressive 4-for-5 on the night, scoring three runs with an RBI. He also concluded the game just a triple shy of the cycle. Carrera, McMeans and Johns each recorded two hits in the contest.
The two in-state rivals will reconvene on Saturday with a 2:00 p.m. CT contest at Quillen Field and Bush Stadium at the Averitt Express Baseball Complex.
Photo by Tony Marable