ROCK HILL, S.C. (March 20, 2013) – For the second time in a matter of a week, the ETSU baseball team dropped a one-run decision to Winthrop, as the Eagles defeated the Bucs, 3-2, on Wednesday night at the Winthrop Ballpark.
Last Tuesday against the Eagles, the Blue and Gold pounded out 12 hits but went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position at Thomas Stadium, and on Wednesday, ETSU had its chances again but still couldn’t manufacture the offense needed to pull out a victory. The Bucs – who left 10 runners stranded at Winthrop – finished without a hit in 11 scoring opportunities.
ETSU had a runner in scoring position in six of the nine innings, including the go-ahead run at second with one out in the ninth; however, closer Eric Ruth worked out of the jam to earn his third save of the season and the second against the Bucs. Sophomore left-hander Josh Strong earned the win (1-0) after allowing one hit in 1.2 innings out of the bullpen. Junior righty Logan Rice (Erwin, Tenn.) was dealt the loss (1-1) as he was tagged for one run on two hits in 2.1 innings, while tying his career high with four strikeouts.
Senior Andrew Green (Powell, Tenn.) registered two of ETSU’s five hits to extend his hitting streak to nine games and fellow senior Derek Niesman (Wellington, Fla.) reached base twice (one hit, one walk) and scored the other Buccaneer run. Niesman also extended his hitting streak to eight straight contests; however, Clinton Freeman’s (Jonesborough, Tenn.) run of reaching base in 20 consecutive games came to an end after finishing 0-for-5.
The Blue and Gold had chances early, but ETSU left six runners stranded in the first five innings of play and the Eagles made the Bucs pay for not coming through with the timely hit.
After getting out of the bases loaded jam in the top of the fifth, the Eagles struck for two runs on two hits in the bottom of the inning to take a 2-0 lead. Winthrop scored its first run on Michael Patrick’s RBI single down the line in left, while Luke Maldonado’s double to right-center brought in Patrick, giving the Eagles the two-run cushion.
Fortunately, after loading the bases for the second straight inning the Bucs were able to scratch across a pair of runs to even it at two in the sixth. Green led off the inning with a double to left-center and Niesman worked a walk, which led to a sac-bunt from Alex Reynolds (Johnson City, Tenn.) to move both runners into scoring position. The small-ball tactic worked as Green and Niesman both scored on wild pitches from Mitchell Knox to tie the game up at two.
However, the Bucs were unable to get over the hump and Winthrop regained the lead in the seventh on Cody Dolan’s one-out rocket single to third to put the Eagles back on top, 3-2.
ETSU had the tying run at second in the eighth, but Green was left stranded as Reynolds lined out to right and Riopedre tapped into an inning-ending grounder to second.
Again, the Bucs looked to have things going in the ninth when pinch hitters Zach Thompson (Johnson City, Tenn.) and Jordan Sanford (Powell, Tenn.) worked walks and quickly moved into scoring position on a sac-bunt from Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.). Unfortunately, Dylan Tritsch (Boca Raton, Fla.) failed on two bunt attempts and struck out swinging, while Freeman flied out to right-center to end the game.
Winthrop’s one-through-three hitters combined for four of its six hits and drove in all three runs. Patrick went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and drove in his first run of the season with his hit in the fifth.
Freshman lefty Josh Jacques (Rollinsford, N.H.) got the start for the Bucs and allowed two runs on four hits in 4.2 innings of work, whereas, Winthrop’s starter, Joey Strain, tossed four innings of one-hit ball.
The Bucs return home Friday night as ETSU returns to conference action when No. 26 Florida Gulf Coast visits Thomas Stadium for a three-game weekend series. Game one of the series is set for 7:05 p.m.
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