College Sports

Dog pile: Ninth inning homer propels Morehead State to OVC title and NCAA tournament

Morehead State baseball won back-to-back games against the Ohio Valley Conference's top seed in No. 18 Tennessee Tech and claimed the OVC Tournament Sunday, which comes with an automatic berth into an NCAA Regional.
Morehead State baseball won back-to-back games against the Ohio Valley Conference's top seed in No. 18 Tennessee Tech and claimed the OVC Tournament Sunday, which comes with an automatic berth into an NCAA Regional. Morehead State Athletics

Morehead State baseball upended No. 18 Tennessee Tech Sunday for the second consecutive day to win the 2018 Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Championship and earn a spot in an NCAA Regional.

Junior left-fielder Niko Hulsizer hit a go-ahead solo homer in the top of the ninth inning off the OVC Pitcher of the Year, Tech's Travis Moths, and the Eagles held on to win 4-3 at Choccolocco Park in Oxford, Ala.

The Eagles (37-24) topped TTU 11-6 on Saturday to force the league's "if necessary" game and won it to mark the fourth time since 2005 a team has come back from the consolation bracket to win the event by knocking off the other team twice. Tennessee Tech (48-9) had not lost back-to-back games all season.

"We knew coming into this year that we had the talent to be a regional team, and I am so proud to coach these men," said head coach Mike McGuire. "Tennessee Tech is a tremendous club, but we just stuck with the plan that helped us win yesterday. A lot of credit goes to our pitching staff for what they accomplished this week, but this was a total team title. Everyone contributed in some way. All I know is we get to keep to keep playing and we get to keep coaching this great group. It doesn't matter who or where we go for the regional, we are just happy to be in it."

It is Morehead State's fourth OVC Baseball title, joining the teams from 1983, 1993 and 2015.

The Eagles will find out their NCAA Regional site on Monday at Noon EDT with the NCAA selection show.

Hulsizer was named tournament MVP, launching his third round-tripper of the tourney and the sixth at Choccolocco Park in the last two seasons. He was joined on the All-Tournament Team by sophomore lefty Dalton Stambaugh, senior second baseman Braxton Morris, junior outfielder Jake Hammon and freshman lefty Cory Conway.

Stambaugh held the TTU offense to just three hits and one run in the final 4.2 innings to earn his seventh win of the season. He entered in the ninth yesterday and claimed a save. Starter Garret Rogers gave his team the first 4.1 innings and only surrendered two hits and struck out seven.

The Eagles jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third frame when junior shortstop Reid Leonard singled home Hammon. Hulsizer then lifted a sac fly to right field to push junior catcher Hunter Fain across. An RBI ground out from Morris finished the scoring.

The score held until the fifth when Tech third baseman Trevor Putzig tied it with a three-run homer down the left-field line. The round-tripper was Tech's 128th of the year, setting an OVC team record.

The Golden Eagles put runners in scoring position in the sixth and eighth, but MSU coaxed a strikeout-throwout double play in the sixth. In the eighth, Stambaugh struck out Nick Osborne to end the threat.

Stambaugh coaxed two ground outs and a game-ending strikeout in the ninth.

Leonard, junior first baseman Trevor Snyder, senior left-fielder Tyler Niemann and Hammon finished with two hits each. MSU had 11 hits off three Tech hurlers. Moths was tagged with the loss, just his second in 2018.

Inspiration Academy senior second baseman Aaron McDaniel plays baseball with a left eye that has a lack of depth perception and is a lazy eye.

  Comments