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The Murray State News

The Murray State News

The Murray State News

Baseball wins series on the road against Tennessee Tech

Senior outfielder Brock Anderson slides into home during the series against Tennessee Tech. (Photo courtesy of Tennessee Tech University Athletics)

Simon Elfrink

Sports Editor

[email protected]

Another three-game stretch of dominant pitching powered the Racers to a 2-1 series win over Tennessee Tech University on Thursday, April 1, and Friday, April 2.

Head Coach Dan Skirka was glad to win another series on the road. The series win against Tennessee Tech makes for the fourth three-game series win in a row for the Racers.

“Went on the road, played a good ball club and we were able to win it, so you’re always happy about that,” Skirka said. “Honestly, we pitched good enough to win all three, so [I’m] really happy with what the pitching staff did.”

Game One

The Racers’ starter in game one, sophomore left-hander Shane Burns, set the tone for pitchers throughout the rest of the series. Burns went six innings on the mound, allowing a pair of runs on seven hits and four walks and striking out a pair of batters in the process. 

“He really sets the tempo and was really aggressive,” Skirka said. “Throwing strikes, attacking their hitters. [It] just gives everyone a sense of confidence when Shane goes out and does that in game one. Lets everyone kind of settle in and sets everybody up for success.”

The first of Burns’ two earned runs came early in the game when three singles in a row helped the Golden Eagles manufacture a run. 

The Racers’ offense showed up a little later, waiting until the fourth inning to tally their first hit against junior right-hander Tyler Sylvester. Senior second baseman Jordan Cozart hit a double to left-center field and was followed by senior outfielder Brock Anderson who walked. Redshirt junior third baseman Bryson Bloomer brought both men around with a double down the left-field line. 

Tennessee Tech tied the game at two in the bottom of the fourth inning with an RBI double from sophomore catcher Will Long. 

The Racers scrapped another couple runs together in the top of the ninth inning. Runners were on second and third when redshirt junior Alex Crump pinch hit for redshirt junior infielder Jordan Holly. Crump hit into a fielder’s choice to the second baseman, scoring Bloomer from third. However, the second baseman threw the ball away, allowing another run to score, giving the Racers a 4-2 lead which they maintained in the bottom of the ninth to win the game.

Game Two

The second game of the series favored the Racers once again as freshman right Jack Wenninger put together a powerful start on the mound. Wenninger went 6.1 innings on the mound, allowing three hits and a single earned run, walking five batters and striking out four. 

Both offenses were slow as a double line of zeroes crept across the scoreboard until the top of the fifth inning. Perkins hit an infield single with the bases loaded to score freshman infielder Drew Vogel, who reached on an error by the pitcher. An RBI single from Cozart gave the Racers a run before Anderson grounded into a double play, allowing another run to cross and giving the Racers a 3-0 lead. 

While Anderson didn’t collect an RBI on his appearance in the fifth, he did get the opportunity to drive two in with a single to center field in the seventh inning. Bloomer hit a two-run homer in the seventh as well, giving the Racers a 7-0 lead. 

The Golden Eagles put a late-game run together in the seventh and eighth inning but by then the damage was done. The Racers walked away with a 7-2 victory.

Skirka was thrilled with Wenninger’s day on the mound, although he admitted he was worried about the short rest his young starter had at the time.

“We were a little worried [because] he pitched on Sunday against Memphis,” Skirka said. “He was just awesome. He ran out of gas there a little bit at the end but because he was going so well he earned that.” 

Game Three

The Racers’ luck ran out in the third game of the series as an early game offensive explosion helped Tennessee Tech salvage the last game. 

Redshirt junior right-hander Jake Jones got the start on the hill for the Racers in game three, running into a feisty Golden Eagles offense in the first inning. Despite having a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first thanks to a solo homer by Cozart, Tennessee Tech worked out their issues on Jones. A leadoff homerun by senior outfielder Cody Littlejohn tied the game at 1-1. Jones couldn’t catch a break, hitting a batter and allowing another walk later in the inning. An RBI single from junior outfielder Jason Hinchman gave the Golden Eagles an early 2-1 lead. Still, Jones got all three outs in the first inning on strikeouts. 

Bloomer led off the second inning by following Cozart’s mentality in the first, hitting a solo shot to left field to tie the game at two runs. 

Skirka said having Bloomer and Cozart swing a hot bat all week was nice, but he still isn’t quite seeing what he wants from his lineup as a whole. 

“I gotta find a way to get the guys a little more consistent 1-9  to where we’re clicking and doing more on the offensive end,” Skirka said. “I’m confident in our hitters’ ability, and now we just gotta find a way to get them consistently producing.”

The Golden Eagles tallied on another three runs in the bottom of the second, convincing Skirka to pull Jones and put graduate right Sam Gardner on the mound in the bottom of the third. 

“Really, that was it right there, as far as what happened the first two innings,” Skirka said. “We’re confident with Jake. He’s a good pitcher. The breaks didn’t go his way today.”

Gardner went on to shut the Golden Eagles’ offense down almost entirely by not allowing a single run on three hits and a walk. Gardner also struck out nine batters in only six innings.

“For him to go out and do that, that’s what we need from him if we’re going to win a championship,” Skirka said. 

The Racers’ offense found more fight in the top of the third as a big swing accumulated in another homer for Cozart, this time a two-run shot to left field to close the lead to 5-4. However, the rest of the game featured lockdown pitching from both teams and the game ended in a 5-4 win for the Golden Eagles. 

Skirka said he and the Racers are excited to get some Easter weekend rest and get back on Johnny Reagan Field.

“We’ve just been on the road so much,” Skirka said. “To win that series and to have a couple days off here on the Easter weekend will be nice.”

With the 2-1 series win, the Racers improve to 14-12 on the year. The Racers will play Bellarmine University on Tuesday, April 6, at 4 p.m. for the first game in a five-game homestand for the Racers. 

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