DeLAND Fla. (May 22, 2013) – Last weekend it was Mason Hershey (Altoona, Pa.) providing the late-inning heroics, and a few days later fellow senior Alex Reynolds (Johnson City, Tenn.) came through with the biggest hit of his Buccaneer career when his walk-off two-RBI single in the eleventh inning rallied the ETSU baseball team to a 4-3 win over Stetson in the first game of the Atlantic Sun Baseball Championship on Wednesday afternoon at Melching Field.
After Stetson took its first lead of the game on James Rasmussen’s RBI single in the top of the inning, Reynolds came through with the clutch two-out hit when his single up the middle scored the winning runs to lift the Blue and Gold to their first conference tournament win since knocking out top-seeded Florida Gulf Coast, 12-10, back on May 28, 2010 in Nashville.
Senior Andrew Green (Powell, Tenn.) and Tyler Roach (Knoxville, Tenn.) scored the game-winning runs on the hit. Not to be overlooked in the win was Green recording a pair of stolen bases to tie him with Tony Martin (1980-83) for the ETSU all-time record at 75.
Ironically, Reynolds’ game-winning single was his third hit of the game, which tied a career high for the third baseman, while Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.) – who allowed just his third earned run to score out of the bullpen this season – earned the win to improve his mark to 6-1. Senior A-Sun Pitcher of the Year Kerry Doane (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) got the start and picked up his second no-decision of the season after being charged with two runs on seven hits in nine innings of work. Doane also struck out five and walked none.
Overall, the Bucs pounded out 16 hits (all singles) but left 16 runners stranded; however, ETSU registered its 20th bases loaded hit of the year to cap off the thrilling win. Reynolds finished the day 3-for-5 with the two RBI, while Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.) and Dylan Tritsch (Boca Raton, Fla.) combined to go 6-for-11 at the top of the order. Freshman Kevin Phillips (St. Louis, Mo.) also finished with a multi-hit game as he went 2-for-4 and put the Bucs on the board with an RBI single in the bottom of the first.
Following the win, ETSU improved to 6-0 overall in extra-inning games and moved its overall record to 33-22, resulting in the fifth-most wins in program history. Furthermore, it also marked the Bucs’ first extra-inning conference tournament win since defeating VMI 7-3 in ten innings back in the 1997 Southern Conference Tournament.
An inning before the dramatic turn of events, ETSU missed a chance to win the game as the Bucs had two runners thrown out at the plate in the tenth. With one out and runners on first and second, Hershey battled off 12 pitches before ripping a single into center, but Kyle Zech threw a strike to the plate to gun down Reynolds. Then, in the next at-bat, Taylor hit a hard single to second, but after the ball got away from Kevin Fagan, the Stetson second baseman regained composure and threw out a sliding Chris Riopedre (Miami, Fla.) at home to end the inning.
Earlier in the game, the Bucs went ahead 1-0 when Phillips’ two-out single to right scored Taylor, while ETSU extended its lead to 2-0 courtesy of a two-out fielding error by Fagan in the fourth.
The Hatters didn’t back down as Stetson plated a pair of two-out runs on Rasmussen’s double down the line in the sixth, but after the Blue and Gold left two runners stranded in the eighth and ninth innings, the game went to extras. Prior to the two-run sixth, Doane was cruising as he retired 15 of the next 17 Stetson batters he faced after Fagan led off the game with single to right.
Fortunately, ETSU loves the flair for the dramatic as the Hatters scored the go-ahead run on Rasmussen’s RBI single in the top of the eleventh, but Reynolds got the last laugh in the bottom of the inning.
Stetson’s Cameron Griffin suffered the loss (4-4) after being charged with the two runs crossing the plate. Junior left-hander Austin Perez started the game for the Hatters and allowed two runs (one earned) on nine hits in 7.1 innings of work. Perez also struck out six and walked two.
The Bucs will now face the winner of the Mercer/USC Upstate game (currently in a lightning delay) Thursday evening at 5 p.m.
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