JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Mar. 14, 2003) - Senior relief pitcher Jarrod Hyder (Elizabethton, Tenn.) struck out VMI left fielder Allan Wimmer with two outs and the bases loaded in the top of the ninth to preserve a dramatic 2-1 East Tennessee State victory Friday night from Cardinal Park in Johnson City, Tenn.
With the win, the Buccaneers raise their record to 6-10, 2-2 in Southern Conference play while VMI falls to 5-10, 3-1 in the SoCon.
The Keydets threatened to score in the top of the first inning as designated hitter Brandon Massenburg reached and moved to second on an error. Wimmer singled to left field, advancing Massenburg to third. After a walk by third baseman Kelly Sweppenhiser, a pitch got away from ETSU junior starter Josh Kite (Greeneville, Tenn.). The ball bounced off of the backstop and sophomore catcher Caleb Moore (Knoxville, Tenn.) was able to gather the ball and block the plate from a charging Masssenburg. Moore's defensive gem was just one of several sparkling plays that the Buccaneer defense turned in on the night.
East Tennessee State also got a runner on base in the first inning, but sophomore outfielder Kevin Brotherton (Erwin, Tenn.) was picked off of first by VMI starter Duke Acors. That was the first of two runners that were picked off by Acors, the second one coming in the bottom of the fifth with no score and ETSU threatening.
After the first inning, both pitchers settled into a groove, with Acors only allowing one more hit over the next five innings and Kite yielding just two hits in the same span.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Bucs broke through against Acors for two runs. Sophomore pinch hitter Davis Burklin (Knoxville, Tenn.) reached on an error. The next batter, junior outfielder Bo Calloway (Knoxville, Tenn.) walked, moving freshman pinch-runner Steven Calicutt (Spartanburg, S.C.) to second. A perfectly placed bunt single by freshman third baseman Shane Byrne (Johnson City, Tenn.) loaded the bases for senior first baseman Chad Boruff (Knoxville, Tenn.). Boruff broke the scoreless tie with a sacrifice fly into foul territory down the left field line. After a passed ball, Calloway came home on a ground ball by sophomore shortstop Justin Clear (LaFollette, Tenn.)
Hyder, who entered the game in the top of the seventh after Kite was thrown out of the game, did not allow a hit until the top of the ninth, when the Keydets began to rally.
VMI second baseman Jason Annis led off the inning with a double to right field. The next batter, catcher Andy Barden singled to right, advancing Annis to third. Pinch-hitter Justin Briggs drove in Annis with the first VMI run of the evening with a sacrifice fly to deep center field. After a ground out, shortstop Matt Smith walked and Massenburg was hit by a pitch for the second time in the game, setting the stage for Hyder's dramatic strikeout.
Hyder (2-1) got the win for the Bucs, while VMI's Acors (2-2) was charged with the loss. Hyder pitched 2.1 innings, allowing one run on two hits and striking out two. Acors was nearly flawless, yielding just three hits in six innings and striking out seven, but allowing two unearned runs. Kite had his second-straight impressive start, going 6.2 innings and allowing no runs on four hits.
Byrne, junior center fielder Tim Turner (Marietta, Ga.) and junior second baseman Andy Howdeshell (Maryville, Tenn.) each had hits for ETSU.
Annis led the Keydets, going 2-for-3 with a run scored. He was the only batter for either team to have multiple hits.
"This is a big win for our program, VMI is a good ball club," said ETSU head coach Tony Skole>B following the game. "I am very proud of our kids and how they found a way to win. Josh Kite and Duke Acors both pitched tremendous tonight, and we are fortunate to have come out with a victory."
The Buccaneers and the Keydets will play game two of their three-game weekend set Saturday at 2 p.m. from Cardinal Park in Johnson City, Tenn.