Johnson City, Tenn. - East Tennessee State senior catcher Ed Sparks went 8-9 with three RBIs and two runs scored to lead the Bucs in a doubleheader sweep (6-5, 4-0) of Southern Conference rival College of Charleston at ETSU's Cardinal Park. Junior third baseman Ryan McKinney belted his first two career home runs, extending his hit streak to five games.
The Bucs (5-11, 3-5 SoCon) used outstanding pitching performances from sophomore Reid Casey (8.2 innings, five runs) in game one and from senior Matt Baber (complete game, four-hit shutout) in game two to win its first two home games of the spring.
In the series opener, ETSU jumped out to a 4-0 lead, highlighted by senior left fielder Chuck Dewald's second home run of the season, in the second inning. Charleston (10-11-1, 5-2-1 SoCon) scored two in the fourth and two in the sixth to close the lead to 6-4.
With two outs and runners at second and third in the top of the ninth, ETSU sophomore Jackson Simerly entered the game and earned his first save of the season, getting Charleston's Josh Edgeworth to pop-up to second base. Sparks went 4-4 with two doubles and two RBIs. The Cougars' offense was led by first baseman Karl Morris who went 4-5 with one RBI and two runs scored.
Baber was the story in the second game, recording the Bucs' first complete-game shutout of the season. Baber allowed just four hits while throwing only one walk. Sparks once again led the offense, going 4-5 with one RBI and one run scored.
Junior Nathan Copeland (three hits) and McKinney (two hits) also contributed at the plate. Charleston pitcher Charlie Wentzky scattered 11 hits and allowed four runs in seven innings.
ETSU and the College of Charleston will complete their three-game series at 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 19 at Cardinal Park.