Baseball, Kirby-Jones swinging for a repeat

The Golden Eagle baseball team will play its final non-conference home series this weekend against the Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville Cougars (5-15). The first pitch of the series will be thrown today at 3 p.m. Tech will then match up against interstate rival Tennessee (11-10) on March 30 before beginning conference play next weekend on the road at Jacksonville State (11-10).

Tech then returns for a home and home matchup with non-conference foe, Lipscomb April 6 and 7.

The Golden Eagles defeated Belmont earlier this week in blowout fashion 15-5. Leading the charge for head coach Bragga’s squad with two late home runs was A.J. Kirby-Jones, adding to his record-setting career total.

A.J. leads the NCAA with 13 home runs so far this season in addition to leading the Ohio Valley Conference in batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, home runs, total bases, walks and runs batted in to go along with being the Louisville National Player of the Week and OVC player of the week earlier in March.

“A.J. just does what he does,” Bragga said. “We know what we are going to get out of A.J. everyday. He is a tremendous ball player and he always shows up ready to give it his all.”

During his National Player of the Week run earlier this month, Kirby-Jones was 10-19 from the plate with five home runs, two doubles, 13 RBIs, a .526 batting average, .655 on-base percentage and a slugging rate of 1.421. At one point, Kirby-Jones hit four home runs in five at bats.

Most players hope to have those kinds of stats over the course of an entire season, let alone a single week.

“It was a great honor, but now I have to keep working for my teammates and we have to get better because it is still early in the year,” Kirby-Jones said. “I have to give a lot of credit to my teammates especially Chad Oberacker, Tate McMillan and Austin Wulf because they are getting on base allowing me to see pitches and I am just trying to hit the ball hard and make something happen.”

The win over Belmont, Tuesday was a great mental boost for the Golden Eagles who were swept by Memphis the previous weekend despite exploding offensively for 22 runs. Tech (10-11) had won 5 of their previous 6 before squaring off against the Tigers.

While the rest of us were on Spring Break, the purple and gold boys of summer were winning baseball games in bunches going 4-2 over the week.

Tech earned a split with powerhouse South Alabama University falling in the first game 6-4 and winning the second in dramatic 14-13 fashion.

Tech, then made their bats rain taking three of four and scoring 37 runs against Buffalo University despite terrible weather.

Tech defeated East Tennessee State University in the front end of a home and home series on March 17.

A clutch one-out, two-run walk-off single from freshman Zephan Guyear in the bottom of the ninth secured a 6-5 victory for the Golden Eagles. Tech visits ETSU for the conclusion of their annual series April 28.

You can follow Tech baseball live during each game at TTUsports.com. Admission is free for every home game and all members of the Tennessee Tech community are encouraged to attend.