USI beats Tennessee Tech, to clinch spot in OVC Tournament
Eagles face Eastern Illinois in first game of OVC Tourney
EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - University of Southern Indiana Baseball concluded the 2023 regular season and a three-game series with Tennessee Tech University by holding on to win, 8-6, Saturday afternoon in Cookeville, Tennessee. USI watched its record go 17-37 overall and 8-15 in the OVC, while TTU is 19-32, 10-14 OVC.
The victory wrapped up an Ohio Valley Conference Championship berth for the Screaming Eagles, who will be the eighth seed in the tournament which is slated for May 24-27 at Mt. Dew Park in Marion, Illinois. USI will play fifth-seeded Eastern Illinois University in the first-round game at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
USI jumped out in front early during the series finale with a pair of runs in the second inning. Senior catcher Lucas McNew (Floyds Knobs, Indiana) put the Screaming Eagles up 1-0 with his fifth home run of the season and the 25th of his career.
The USI Eagles followed McNew’s homer with a second run when freshman third baseman Caleb Niehaus (Newburgh, Indiana) singled in junior designated hitter Parker Stroh (Grand Forks, North Dakota).
USI followed the two-run second with a five-run fifth, scoring five times on four hits, two walks, and an error to extend the lead to 7-0. The 7-0 margin lasted until the bottom of the sixth when the Golden Eagles closed the gap to 7-1.
After allowing the sixth-inning tally, USI pushed the lead back to seven, 8-1, when junior first baseman Tucker Ebest (Austin, Texas) scored on a ground out by junior rightfielder Ren Tachioka (Japan). TTU bounced back to cut the USI advantage to 8-4 with a three-run seventh.
The Golden Eagles made a game with it in the ninth, scoring a pair of runs on a two-run homer, cutting the gap to 8-6, and proceeded to put another pair of runners on with one out against USI sophomore right-hander Gavin Seebold (Jeffersonville, Indiana). Seebold settled down to get the final two Golden Eagles to preserve the 8-6 victory.
Seebold posted his first save of the season, allowing two runs on three hits and one walk. He also struck out two in three innings of work.
On the mound, sophomore right-hander Tyler Hutson (Villa Hills, Kentucky) gave USI a great start and posted his second win of the year. Hutson (2-7) allowed one run on eight hits and two walks, while striking out five in 5.2 innings of work.
Up Next for the Post-Season Eagles:
The Screaming Eagles’ first opponent in a NCAA Division I post-season is the Panthers of EIU. USI took the series in April, taking two of games (W 26-6; L 12-22; W 15-8) and scoring 53 runs in the three contests.
EIU (33-18, 13-11 OVC) enters the post-season on a seven-game winning streak and has won 11 of 14.
The winner of the USI-EIU contest would advance to play fourth-seeded Southeast Missouri State University (26-29, 14-10 OVC) at 4 p.m. The first two rounds of the OVC Championship on Wednesday (May 24) are single-elimination before the double-elimination portion begins on Thursday (May 25).
In addition to USI, EIU, and SEMO, the OVC Championship field includes top-seeded Morehead State University (34-19, 16-7 OVC); second-seeded University of Arkansas at Little Rock (30-21, 14-8 OVC); third-seeded University of Tennessee at Martin (22-33, 14-10 OVC); sixth-seeded TTU; and seventh-seeded Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (26-27, 9-15 OVC).
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