RICHMOND, Ky. (March 18, 2014) – After scoring five unanswered runs to finish off its rally in the 5-4 12-inning win over Bryant on Saturday, the ETSU baseball team looked prime for another comeback win at Eastern Kentucky on Tuesday afternoon from Turkey Hughes Field.
Trailing by three in the top of the ninth, sophomore Andrew Lasure (Stanford, Ky.) pulled the Bucs within a run by belting a two-run home run, but despite having the tying run at third with one out, the Blue and Gold were unable to come away with the clutch play as the Colonels hung on for a 4-3 victory.
With one out (in the top of the ninth) and runners on corners, freshman catcher Gage Downey (Franklin, Tenn.) couldn’t execute the squeeze bunt as pinch runner Zach Mize (Gainesville, Ga.) was tagged out on a bang-bang play at the plate, keeping the Colonels’ one-run lead intact. Following a wild pitch by Cody Creamer, ETSU had runners on second and third, but Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.) hit a deep fly out to the fence in right-center to end the game.
Buccaneer freshman infielder Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.), who played in his first game since suffering an injury on Feb. 28, went 2 for 3 with a walk, double, and run scored, while Lasure recorded his first collegiate home run in the ninth. Sophomore Trey York (Knoxville, Tenn.) and senior Tyler Roach (Knoxville, Tenn.) also finished with two-hit games, and Taylor extended his streak of reaching base safely to nine straight games after posting a bunt single in the eighth.
Prior to the ninth, the Bucs, who jumped out to a 1-0 lead on Roach’s RBI single in the third, had several chances to push runs across the plate but couldn’t execute with runners in scoring position. In the sixth Dylan Tritsch (Boca Raton, Fla.) was left stranded at third with one out, while the same went for Taylor in the eighth. Overall, the Blue and Gold were 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position.
Sophomore left-hander Josh Jacques (Rollinsford, N.H.) got the start the Blue and Gold and suffered the loss (1-3) after allowing four runs on six hits in 5.1 innings. The southpaw also struck out three and walked one. The Buccaneer bullpen registered 2.2 scoreless innings as Jared Burton (Knoxville, Tenn.) struck out two in 1.1 innings, Will Chesney (Knoxville, Tenn.) worked a perfect eighth inning, and Kameron Miller (Crestview, Fla.) retired the lone hitter he faced in the sixth.
EKU freshman right-hander Brian Mroz earned the win in his first collegiate start. Mroz improved to 2-0 after being charged with one run on five hits, while striking out six and walking none in six innings of action.
ETSU moved to 4-2 in one-run games this season and dropped to 8-11 overall, while EKU snapped its three-game skid to improve to 8-12.
After both pitchers faced the minimum through the first two innings, the Bucs scratched across the first run in the top of the third to take a 1-0 lead. Cook led off the frame with a double down the line in right and scored Roach’s RBI single through the right side to break the scoreless game.
The Colonels’ offense came to life in the fourth when Eastern Kentucky hit back-to-back home runs to go ahead, 2-1. With one out and the bases empty, Bryan Soloman and Luke Wurzelbacher hit solo shots to left to take a one-run lead. Jacques regrouped after surrendering the long balls as he struck out Ben Fisher swinging and forced Shea Sullivan into an inning-ending foul out to first.
The Bucs had the tying run at third with one out in the sixth when Tritsch led off the inning with a single to right-center, moved to second on a failed pickoff and stole third to move himself 90-feet from scoring. However, Mroz worked out of the jam by striking out Chris Riopedre (Miami, Fla.) and inducing York into groundout to first.
EKU made the Bucs pay for not pushing across the tying run as the Colonels plated two more runs in the bottom of the sixth, making it a 4-1 ballgame. The Colonels got a one-out RBI double by Soloman and he scored the eventual game-winning run on a two-out RBI single by Fisher.
ETSU squandered a chance in the eighth when Taylor reached on a bunt single, but the Buccaneer outfielder was left on third when Anthony Bazzani struck out Tritsch swinging and forced Freeman to fly out to left.
The Bucs didn’t go down without a fight in the ninth, as York reached on a one-out single to center and trotted home on Lasure’s two-run homer to right, making it a 4-3 contest. Despite having two chances to score the tying run, Creamer worked out of the messy situation to earn his fourth save of the year.
Soloman was a perfect 3 for 3 at the plate as he doubled, homered and drove in two runs.
The Bucs head to Cullowhee, N.C. on Wednesday for a non-conference clash with Western Carolina. First pitch is set for 5 p.m. at Hennon Stadium.
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