JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Apr. 14, 2012) – Catcher Luke Weber had four hits on the day, including the game-winner in the top of the 11th inning to lead USC Upstate to a series clinching win over ETSU, 8-7, Saturday afternoon at Thomas Stadium.
With the score tied 7-7, Weber roped a two-out, 2-2 offering from Buccaneer reliever Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.) (1-1) into right center field to drive in Gaither Bumgardner with the go-ahead run from third. Weber finished the afternoon 4-for-6 at the plate with three runs scored and two RBI.
Meanwhile, ETSU stormed back after trailing 7-2 through six innings of play. With two-outs in the ninth and ETSU trailing 7-6, the Bucs were down to their final out with Dylan Pratt (Johnson City, Tenn.) at the plate. Pratt, who had already hit two home runs in the contest, drilled the 0-2 pitch from USC Upstate closer Chad Sobotka deep over the left field wall to tie the score at 7-7. Pratt finished the game 3-for-5 at the plate and was the first Buccaneer to record a three home run game since Paul Hoilman hit three long balls at UNC Asheville on May 11, 2010.
Sobotka (3-0) earned the victory after allowing just the home run to Pratt in 3.1 innings of work, while walking two and striking out two. Freeman was the tough luck loser after pitching four solid innings out of the bullpen. He allowed just three hits and the one run, while striking out four.
ETSU centerfielder Matthew Scruggs (Knoxville, Tenn.) was the only other Buccaneer with multiple hits as he finished 2-for-5 with a home run and two RBI. Meanwhile, Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.) and Corey McPherson (Johnson City, Tenn.) each had a hit and an RBI on the day.
The top five batters in the USC Upstate lineup each had multi-hit outings, including the four-hit day by Weber. Jordan Stampler, Bumgardner, Austin Liput and Greg Guers each had two hits, while Guers drove in a run. Dillon Way was 1-for-4 with two RBI and Brody Greer also had a hit and an RBI for the Spartans.
ETSU struck first in the bottom of the second as Pratt led off the frame by belting his 11th home run of the season to put the Bucs in front 1-0.
USC Upstate took control of the ballgame in the fourth as the Spartans plated four runs on five hits with an ETSU error in the inning. After ETSU starting pitcher Kuehl McEachern (Mt. Dora, Fla.) struck out the leadoff batter to start the inning, the next six Spartan batters reached base. Guers, Way and Greer each had RBI singles in the inning as the Spartans took a 4-1 lead.
The Spartans tacked on two more runs in the fifth on two hits and another ETSU error. Stampler led off the frame by getting hit by a pitch and later advanced into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt. Then with two outs in the inning, Weber recorded an RBI single through the left side. Later on in the frame, the Spartans plated a run with the bases loaded thanks to an ETSU throwing error.
Trailing 6-1 in the bottom of the sixth, Scruggs reached base after getting hit by a pitch and later stole second with two outs in the inning. Then, McPherson ripped the 2-0 pitch from USC Upstate starter Scott DeCecco into left field for an RBI single to make the score 6-2.
USC Upstate added a run in the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Way, which scored Weber to give the Spartans a 7-2 lead.
The Bucs mounted a rally in the bottom half of the inning as Andrew Green (Powell, Tenn.) got it started by drawing a one-out hit by pitch. After Green advanced to second on a ground out, Freeman recorded an RBI single through the right side. Then, Scruggs belted the first pitch he saw from relief pitcher Andrew Wyant over the left field wall for his 15th homer of the season. Pratt followed with his second homer of the day to pull the Bucs within one at 7-6. It was the second time this season the Bucs hit back-to-back homers in a game. Freeman and Pratt did it March 31 at Lipscomb.
After a scoreless eighth and top half of the ninth, ETSU was down to its final three outs. After Sobotka got the first two outs of the inning, he delivered two quick strikes to Pratt. Then, the 0-2 fastball caught a little too much of the plate and Pratt deposited his third home run of the day in dramatic fashion to tie the ballgame.
The Spartans scored the eventual game-winning run in the 11th on the RBI single by Weber, which brought home Bumgardner.
ETSU and USC Upstate will be back in action tomorrow for the series finale at 1:05 p.m. Sophomore Jake Long (Anderson, S.C.) (2-3) will take the mound for the Bucs against USC Upstate righty Brandon Lee (4-3).
- Clinton Freeman has now reached base in 27 consecutive games after going 1-for-5 on the afternoon. Freeman also extended his hitting streak to seven.
- Matthew Scruggs has now homered in consecutive games after he hit two home runs in the series opener on Friday.
- The Bucs hit four home runs in a game for the first time since March 11 against La Salle.
For more information on ETSU baseball, please visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the baseball link.