JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Mar. 2, 2012) – Senior Dylan Pratt (Johnson City, Tenn.) belted a game tying home run in the ninth and senior Matthew Scruggs (Knoxville, Tenn.) later followed with a walk off RBI single to lift the ETSU baseball team past Indiana, 4-3, Friday afternoon at Thomas Stadium.
The Bucs trailed 3-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth when Indiana put in sophomore Ryan Halstead to try and close out the game. Halstead finished the 2011 season with nine saves, which was sixth most in school history for a single season. Pratt, who led off the inning, belted the 0-1 pitch over the left centerfield wall for his first homer of the season, which tied the game up at 3-3. Then, with one out, Derek Niesman (Wellington, Fla.) drew a walk and later advanced on a balk. After intentionally walking Alex Reynolds (Johnson City, Tenn.) to try and set up the double play, catcher Zach Waters (Woodstock, Ga.) lined out to centerfield for the second out of the inning. With two outs, Andrew Green (Powell, Tenn.) beat out a ground ball to the shortstop to load the bases. Scruggs followed by delivering the 0-2 pitch from Halstead right up the middle to score Niesman with the game-winner from third.
ETSU starter John Long (Anderson, S.C.) (3-0) was outstanding once again as he earned his third win of the season in as many tries. Long tossed a complete game and allowed eight hits and three runs, while striking out seven. Halstead was charged with the loss after giving up the two runs in the ninth – the first two runs he has allowed this season.
Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.), Zach Thompson (Johnson City, Tenn.), Green and Pratt each had two hits to lead the Bucs at the plate. Freeman was 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs.
Indiana got out to the early lead by scoring two runs in the first inning. Will Nolden led off the game with a single and later scored on a two out home run by catcher Kyle Schwarber to put the Hoosiers up 2-0.
The Hoosiers added another run in the fifth after starting the inning with back-to-back singles by Justin Cureton and Nolden. With runners on the corners and no outs, Dustin DeMuth grounded into a double play to score Cureton from third and extend the lead to 3-0.
Indiana starting pitcher Joey DeNato was solid all day as he cruised through the first six innings without allowing a run. Then, Freeman led off the seventh inning with a deep home run – his first of the season – over the right field wall to finally put the Bucs on the scoreboard.
Matt Dearden came on in the eighth inning in relief of DeNato and he got two quick outs in the inning. After Scruggs walked and later advanced on a wild pitch, Freeman delivered again, this time with an RBI single to left center to cut the lead to 3-2.
Long worked out of trouble in the ninth inning as Indiana got the first two batters on base. After a sacrifice bunt moved the runners into scoring position, the Bucs intentionally walked Trace Knoblauch to load the bases. After getting pinch hitter Collin McEnery to ground into a fielder’s choice, Long got out of the jam by retiring Cureton on a ground out.
ETSU improved its record to 5-2 on the season, while Indiana dropped to 2-5 with the loss.
The Bucs continue the weekend series against Indiana tomorrow with a 1:05 p.m. first pitch at Thomas Stadium. The Bucs will send junior Derek Bushey (Richmond, Va.) to the mound to oppose Indiana lefty Drew Leininger.
- The walk off hit by Matthew Scruggs in the ninth extended his hitting streak to seven straight to start the season.
- With two hits on the day, freshman Zach Thompson has recorded a hit in each of the four games in which he has played to open the season.
- The walk off hit was the first for the Bucs since April 28, 2010 when Michael Gonzalez hit a game winner against Tennessee Tech.
- The complete game tossed by John Long was the first for the Bucs since May 7, 2011 when Derek Bushey earned a complete game victory over N.C. State.
- Scruggs and Pratt have now reached base in each of the seven games this season.
- Today’s walk off victory was the second in a row for the Bucs after earning a walk off win against Saint Joseph’s last Sunday.
- The Bucs now improve to 3-1 all-time against Indiana.
For more information on ETSU baseball, please visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the baseball link.