JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (April 26, 2013) – On a night when a pitchers’ duel was expected, both starters didn’t disappoint.
However, the matchup of senior right-hander Kerry Doane (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) going against Kennesaw State’s ace Stephen Janas didn’t come to fruition, as Doane was sidelined with an injured foot, but freshman lefty Josh Jacques (Rollinsford, N.H.) filled the void nicely for the Bucs.
Unfortunately, Janas – who entered the night with an NCAA-leading 0.70 ERA – saw the number increase just a tad as he led the Owls to a 4-1 win in the series opener over the Blue and Gold on Friday night at Thomas Stadium.
Despite seeing is ERA jump to 0.75 (5 ER/60.1 IP), Janas improved to 7-0 on the season, while Jacques suffered the loss (1-4) even though he didn’t allow an earned run. Jacques was charged with two unearned runs on seven hits in six innings of work in his first Friday night start.
The Bucs managed to generate nine hits off Janas, which tied a season-high for the Owl right-hander, but ETSU finished the night 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and went 2-for-12 with runners on base.
Freshman Andrew Lasure (Stanford, Ky.) and senior Derek Niesman (Wellington, Fla.) both went 2-for-4, while fellow senior Alex Reynolds (Johnson City, Tenn.) extended a pair of streaks on Friday night. Reynolds has now reached base safely in 13 straight games and has recorded a hit in eight consecutive outings following his infield single in the second. Reynolds also had the only RBI for the Blue and Gold when his grounder to short scored Andrew Green (Powell, Tenn.) in the ninth to break up the shutout.
The Bucs have now lost a season-high four straight games and dropped to 22-17, 11-8, while Kennesaw State snapped its three-game skid to move to 22-22, 10-9.
ETSU threatened early and often, but the Bucs couldn’t find the clutch hit, while a questionable call on a stolen base attempt by Green in the fourth took a potential run off the board for the Blue and Gold.
After being sent down in order in the first, the Bucs recorded a pair of two-out singles by Reynolds and Niesman in the second, but despite both runners moving up a base on a passed ball, ETSU couldn’t scratch across any runs. With two outs and runners on second and third, catcher Max Pentecost had a 2-2 pitch get by him again, but after hesitating on going home, Reynolds was gunned down at the plate for the final out of the inning.
From there, the disputed call in the fourth cost the Buccaneers a run as Green had his 67th career stolen base taken away from him when he was called out at second; although, the speedster beat the throw and the tag on the play. Following the call, Lasure doubled down the line in left, but Janas got out of the inning by forcing Reynolds to fly out to the outfield.
Once again, the Blue and Gold had runners in scoring position in the fifth, but with two outs and Buccaneers on the corners, Dylan Tritsch (Boca Raton, Fla.) found a pitch to his liking; however, he hit a hard liner right to Bo Way in center.
With both pitchers hanging goose eggs on the board for the first six innings, the Owls finally snapped the drought in the seventh to go up, 3-0.
Kennesaw State capitalized on a two-out error by pitcher Will Chesney (Knoxville, Tenn.) to score the first two runs, while Jacob Bruce scored on Andy Almonte’s single to center to make it a three-run advantage. After giving up three hits in the first two innings, Jacques – who started the seventh inning – retired 12 of the next 14 Kennesaw State hitters he faced until surrendering a leadoff double to Chris McGowan. McGowan then moved to third when Pentecost reached on a bunt single, which ended Jacques’ night on the mound. With Chesney coming in from the bullpen, Peyton Hart advanced Pentecost over to second on a sac-bunt, and Bruce was intentionally walked to load the bases. From there, McGowan looked like he was going to score the first run of the night when pinch hitter Kody Belcher hit a hard liner to right-center, but Green robbed him of a hit with an outstanding diving catch and McGowan was unable to tag. After dodging one bullet, the Bucs were dealt a big blow when Alex Liquori hit a roller to the right side, but with first baseman Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.) away from the bag, Chesney bobbled the throw from Niesman to allow the unearned runs to score.
In the eighth, the Owls tacked on their final run on Pentecost’s one-out RBI single, putting Kennesaw State ahead, 4-0.
ETSU ruined Janas’ attempt at his second shutout of the season by scoring in the ninth, but the Owls managed to walk away with the three-run victory.
Like the Bucs, Kennesaw State also finished with nine hits in the game as Almonte and Pentecost registered three hits apiece.
With rain expected to hit the Tri-Cities region this weekend, both teams agreed to play a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon. First pitch of the twinbill is set for 1:05 p.m., while the nightcap will get underway approximately 40 minutes following the conclusion of game one.
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