MARTIN, Tenn. — Just when Tennessee Tech needed it most, senior Chris Chism delivered one of the most dominating pitching performances of not only his career, but in program history. The right-hander led the Golden Eagles to a 2-0 victory against Ohio Valley Conference rival Tennessee-Martin Saturday evening, fanning 17 batters in a one-hit shutout.
Making his first start of the year in place of the injured Tech southpaw, John Gora, Chism channeled his first career performance against the Skyhawks just one year ago.
But even with that spectacular outing on his resume, he managed to one-up himself in Martin Saturday night.
After Taylor Douglas to collect a lead-off single to open his night, Chism settled down significantly, retiring the next 23 batters he faced, amassing 13 strikeouts over that span. Austin Taylor managed to draw a two-out walk against the hurler in the bottom of the eighth, but he answered promptly with his 14th K of the game to end the inning.
And when the pressure of the game reached an all-time high, Chism was at his best. Clinging to a 2-0 lead headed into the bottom of the ninth, he could do nothing but watch as pinch-hitter Mike Murphy not reached base, but advanced on a Golden Eagle miscue. Head coach Matt Bragga never lost faith, however, sticking with his veteran arm the whole way.
Chism sat down the next two Skyhawks he faced, forcing each to strike out swinging and leave UT Martin with just one more chance. This gem would not be without its own breath-holding drama though. With one strike to go before ending an unbelievable performance on the hill, Chism lost control of his next offering, plunking three-hole hitter Nico Zych to put the tying run on base with the cleanup batter coming to the plate.
He proved that this was his night. Luis Paublini dug in and worked a 1-1 count before fouling off Chism’s 122nd pitch of the game. It all came to this. Just one more strike and history would be his. He took the sign, reared back, and offered.
With his 17th punch-out of the night, Chism had completed his second career, one-hit shutout to guide the Golden Eagles to a huge series-opening victory and cement his place in program history. With the victory, he moved to 3-0 on the year while UT Martin starter Carter Smith took the tough-luck loss despite tossing eight innings with just one run given up.
In his first game back from history, second baseman Jake Farr provided the biggest hit of the evening, breaking the scoreless tie in the top of the seventh frame with an RBI single to center field. The two-out hit drove in senior catcher Jordan Hopkins, who opened the inning with his own base knock to center field.
Freshman first baseman Chase Chambers provided a little insurance for Chism, doubling in All-American shortstop Dylan Bosheers to kick off the ninth inning. Bosheers reached to start the top half with his second hit of the game. Overall, Bosheers ended his night 2-for-3 with a run scored and walk. Leadoff man David Allen also collected two hits on the night in four trips to the plate.
Chism’s 17 strikeouts marked the most by a Golden Eagle hurler in nearly 30 years, falling just behind the program record of 19 tossed by TTU Sports Hall of Famer, Todd Kemp. The OVC-record holder for both single-season and career strikeouts, Kempt accomplished his single-game mark for Tech back in 1988 against Tennessee State.
Of his 17 K’s on the night, Chism set down 10 swinging and the other seven looking.