COOKEVILLE — It was only a matter of time for a stacked Tennessee Tech lineup to break through en route to an offensive outburst.
After failing to capitalize with runners on base in the first two games, the Golden Eagles showed why they rank as one of the top offensive teams in the country, overpowering APSU 16-9 on Sunday, April 6 at Bush Stadium.
The Golden Eagles (25-8, 9-6 OVC) received production from each spot in the order as all but two players contributed in racking up a double-digit run total for the 15th time this season. After combining to leave 19 men in the two prior games, Tennessee Tech took advantage of a depleted Gov pitching staff to score in all but two innings.
From the start, the home team made a statement knowing they could not suffer a sweep on their home field. The Golden Eagles put up four runs in the first inning, which quickly forced the Govs to go to the bullpen for help beginning in the third.
“The big thing today is we give up a four spot in the first inning, and they (TTU) needed that bad,” APSU head coach Gary McClure said. “We had all the momentum in the series, they were down, and that brought them back to life getting those four runs early. The momentum changed in a hurry when that happened, and we just got off to a bad start on the mound.”
McClure said the key factor of the game was that in each inning except the eighth, the Govs allowed the lead-off man to reach base. Only one time — the fourth inning — did the Govs get out of the inning by not allowing the first batter to reach second base. Caleb DeLee started on the mound for APSU, and went just two innings while allowing six runs. Seven more hurlers would enter for the Govs, and were not greeted nicely.
But the Govs (12-20, 5-7 OVC) weren’t going to go down without a fight.
After Tennessee Tech quickly put up seven runs in the first three innings, three of which coming on a home run by Brandon Thomasson, APSU answered back to cut the deficit to 7-6 after four and half played. Logan Gray led the way beginning with a two RBI double in the second, while Dre Gleason closed the gap to one run with his second homer of the season.
However, the bats on the visiting side would go silent for the next two inning as Seth Lucio entered for Tennessee Tech. After the closer came on in the fifth, following Gleason’s homer, the Golden Eagles found their groove again by hitting two home runs in the span of three batters, including a towering shot by Zach Stephens which tied the all-time record of 51 in the program’s history.
Another five runs would come across in the seventh inning for Tennessee Tech, which all but sealed the deal. But Gray continued to swing a hot bat with a deep home run off the tall wall which stands beyond the center field fence, which put a cap on a 3-for-4 day at the plate.
“That was definitely the farthest ball I’ve hit and hardest ball I’ve hit,” Gray said.
While the Govs were unable to leave Cookeville with a sweep, Gray said there was positive energy from the team in the final huddle after winning the series. But one thing APSU has not done this season is win three games in a row, a feat McClure has stressed to his team although the consistency on the mound just hasn’t been there to accomplish that goal.
The Govs will have two mid-week games on the schedule, with the first coming on Tuesday, April 8 before traveling to Memphis the following day. Once next weekend comes, the top dogs in the conference right now, Southeast Missouri, will be in town for a three-game series.
Photo: Logan Gray (Corey Adams/The All State)