CHARLESTON, S.C. (April 24, 2004) - Despite a solid effort from its bullpen, the East Tennessee State University baseball team could not overcome an early deficit Saturday against the College of Charleston, dropping an 11-4 contest to the Southern Conference's first-place team at Patriots Point Park.
The 25th-ranked Cougars (31-7 overall, 15-2 SoCon) took an early 5-0 lead and held off the Buccaneers' numerous offensive rallies in the game's middle innings to pick up the victory. ETSU dropped to 21-21 on the year, 11-12 in conference play.
Charleston got to ETSU starter Tim Turner (Marietta, Ga.) early, chasing him from the game with five runs in the first two innings. The Cougars picked up two of those runs on a two-run home run by Brett Gardner in the bottom of the first inning, and they added another three notches to the scoreboard thanks to a RBI single from Chris Campbell and a two-run triple off the bat of Brett Gardner.
Turner then walked two batters to load the bases and head coach Tony Skole was forced to go to the ETSU bullpen. Reliever David Yates (Douglasville, Ga.) did his job, getting a ground ball to third baseman Greg Roberts (Douglas, Ga.) to end the threat.
ETSU finally managed to break through offensively thanks in part to a pair of errors by Charleston shortstop Steve Friend. The first error allowed Roberts to reach and three straight ETSU hits followed to score a run and load the bases. Bucs' shortstop Andy Howdeshell (Maryville, Tenn.) then grounded to Friend, who bobbled the ball and allowed Matt Traylor (Knoxville, Tenn.) to score from third. That made it 5-2 with the bases loaded and still just one out, but ETSU could not bring anyone else home in the inning.
Charleston manufactured a single run in the bottom of the fourth to make it 6-2, but the Bucs came right back to cut back into the lead in the top of the fifth. The Bucs scored a pair of runs when junior Caleb Moore (Knoxville, Tenn.) doubled and teammate Blake Church (Roswell, Ga.) followed with a run-scoring double off the leftfield wall. Church later scored on Josiah Glafenhein's (Knoxville, Tenn.) groundout to shortstop.
With the score 6-4, Charleston added another single run in the bottom of the fifth to regain a three-run advantage.
ETSU threatened again in the top of the seventh, as Moore doubled for the sixth time in the series and Church reached on a walk off Charleston reliever Brett Harker. The runners moved up a base thanks to Howdeshell's infield groundout, but they were stranded as again the lower part of the ETSU lineup could not come through with a hit.
Charleston then put the game out of reach with a four-run eighth inning.
Cougar starting pitcher Ryan Johnson (8-0) picked up the victory and reliever Brett Harker picked up the save (8). Turner (5-6) took the loss for ETSU. While Turner struggled, relievers Yates and senior Josh Kite (Greeneville, Tenn.) put together respectable efforts in keeping the Bucs in the game.
Offensively, the Bucs were led by Moore and Traylor, who both picked up three hits apiece. Moore, the SoCon's leading hitter, currently has six doubles in the series. Meanwhile, the Cougars were paced by Gardner, who finished with a team-high four hits and a career-high six RBIs.
ETSU and Charleston will meet in the final game of this three-game series Sunday, with first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m. Buccaneer fans are encouraged to follow all the action by visiting www.etsubucs.com and clicking on the Live stats link located on the baseball homepage.