Morehead State baseball fell in heartbreaking fashion to No. 16 Tennessee Tech 18-17 in the regular-season finale Saturday at Allen Field.
In a game marred by a weather delay of four hours and 55 minutes, the Eagles built a 17-8 lead with eight runs after the delay, but Tech chipped away and eventually hit a grand slam in the top of the ninth to take the lead.
Morehead State fell to 32-23 and will garner the No. 3 seed in this week's OVC Tournament in Oxford, Ala. The first round opponent will be No. 6 Eastern Kentucky at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The game marked the final home action for seniors Braxton Morris, Tyler Niemann, JC Hatcher, Kyle Cantu, David Calderon (who returned from injury to start) and Eli Boggess.
“All six have meant a lot to this program, and the guys behind them can use them as examples of what this program is all about,” said head coach Mike McGuire. “I think today was a tough one because we could have had a chance to increase our lead even more and didn't, and Tech took advantage of some walks and free bases we gave them to get back into it. They got a few hits here and there, but we could have prevented that by not putting those guys on base ahead of them.”
The Eagles fell into a 5-0 hole in the first inning, thanks to two homers by Tech, but they battled back and finally tied the game 6-6 on senior second baseman Morris' RBI single. Back-to-back doubles by seniors Boggess and Niemann in the fourth pushed the lead to 9-6. Tech homered twice in the fifth to make it 9-8 before about 3:15 p.m. when the heavens dumped more than two inches of rain on the field in the next hour.
When the rain finally subsided, the field was virtually flooded. Worked commenced on making it playable and a final decision was not made until 7:45 p.m. and play resumed at 8:10 p.m.
MSU wasted no time in shaking off the delay rust, scoring eight times in the fifth inning. Junior Jake Hammon had a three-run homer in the frame, and junior Trevor Snyder cranked a two-run single. The hosts led 17-8 after that.
Tech managed to score twice in the seventh and four more in the eighth to make it 17-14. Two walks and a single loaded the bases for Chase Chambers who hit a grand slam on the first pitch he saw.
Boggess and Hammon smacked four hits each, while Snyder and juniors Niko Hulsizer and Reid Leonard had three. Boggess also had a home run. Leonard continued to add on to his school-record reached-base streak, now at 47 games. Morris had two hits to give him 90 for the season.
“This was a tough one to swallow,” said McGuire. “But we will be ready to play next week.”