Johnson City, Tenn. (May 17, 2002) - The East Tennessee State baseball team picked up a pivotal win in the Southern Conference standings as they defeated Furman, 13-4, Friday night from Cardinal Park in Johnson City, Tenn.
With the win, the Buccaneers (21-32, 13-14 Southern Conference) clinch a spot in the Southern Conference Baseball Championships, next week from Charleston, S.C.
Furman (21-32, 12-16 Southern Conference) took an early 1-0 lead after scoring a run in the top of the first. Second baseman Clint Hill led off the inning with a single to right field. He advanced to third when right fielder Craig Caudill reached on an error. Hill came home as third baseman Derek Norman hit a sacrifice fly to left field.
The Bucs answered right back, taking the lead by scoring two runs in the bottom of the first.
Freshman left fielder Matt Traylor (Knoxville, Tenn.) led the inning off with a triple to center field. He scored on a groundout by the next batter, senior second baseman Jeremy Terry (Cumberland, Ky.). The next batter in the inning, senior first baseman Brandon Cross (Bluff City, Tenn.) doubled to right field and scored on a subsequent double by senior designated hitter Bryan Crouse (Kingston, Tenn.).
ETSU widened their lead to 3-1 by plating another run in the bottom of the second. Junior catcher Jason Brotherton (Erwin, Tenn.) doubled to left field and came home as Traylor singled to right field with two outs.
Furman cut the ETSU lead to 3-2 as first baseman Dominic Frankey belted a leadoff home run to right field in the top of the fourth.
But the Bucs would answer again as they scored four runs in the bottom of the frame to make their lead 7-3. Keithley led the inning off by singling to center field and stealing second. Freshman third baseman Mike Giroud (St. Petersburg, Fla.) then singled, advancing Keithley to third. With one out, Brotherton singled to right field to drive in Keithley. The big blow of the inning was a three-run homer by Traylor to right-center field, scoring Brotherton and Giroud in front of him.
The Paladins threatened in the top of the sixth as the first three Furman batters reached base. Catcher Drew Latora singled to left field and advanced to second on an error. He came home on a double to right-center by Frankey, the next man to the plate. The next batter, left fielder Ryan Presnell laced a triple to deep center field bringing home Frankey. But then ETSU senior starter Reid Casey (Kingsport, Tenn.) then settled down, retiring the next three batters, striking out the last two.
The Buccaneers blew the game open by scoring six unanswered runs in the last two innings to provide the final margin of victory. ETSU scored one run in the bottom of the seventh as Cross led off the inning with a walk and came home on a triple by Keithley.
ETSU scored their final five runs in the bottom of the eighth as they sent eight players to the plate. Brotherton led the inning off with a single and advanced to second on a sacrfice bunt by sophomore center fielder Tim Turner (Marietta, Ga.). Traylor was then intentionally walked and both runners moved up a base on a passed ball. With two outs, Cross was intentionally walked to load the bases. Crouse then hit a hot shot off the first baseman's glove for a single to score Brotherton. Keithley then came to the plate and blasted a grand slam home run to right field. It was Keithley's second grand slam in as many games as he also hit one in
ETSU's last game against Morehead State on May 14.
Both Keithley and Traylor were just a double short of the cycle for ETSU. Keithley went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and five RBI. Traylor went 3-for-3 with three runs scored and four RBI. Brotherton went 3-for-3 with three runs scored and an RBI.
Furman was led by Frankey, who went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBI. Hill also had three hits for the Paladins.
Casey (9-5) picked up the win for the Bucs, allowing three earned runs on ten hits in seven innings pitched, striking out nine. Tom Mastny (5-7) took the loss for Furman, allowing eight earned runs on 12 hits in 6.1 innings pitched, striking out six.
The three-game series between ETSU and Furman will continue tomorrow with Senior Day from Cardinal Park in Johnson City, Tenn.