CULLOWHEE, N.C. (March 19, 2014) – The ETSU baseball team used a good time to break out its bats.
The Buccaneers got home runs from Tyler Roach (Knoxville, Tenn.), Matt Sorrow (Griffin, Ga.) and Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.), and ETSU snapped Western Carolina’s 21-game home win streak as the Blue and Gold defeated the Catamounts, 12-9, on Wednesday night at Hennon Stadium.
Roach and Sorrow both fueled a four-run third with solo shots to left, while Freeman capped off a four-run fourth with a two-run homer to left-center as the Bucs eventually built a seven-run lead after five-and-a-half innings of play. However, Western Carolina pulled within a run by plating six runs in the bottom of the sixth, but ETSU maintained its composure and Freeman closed things out by retiring six of the final eight Catamount hitters to earn his third save of the year.
Not only did Freeman get things done on the mound, but the Buccaneer senior went 4 for 6 with the two-run home run and drove in four runs, while Sorrow was 3 for 4 with three runs scored and three RBI. Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.) has now reached base safely in 10 straight games after going 2 for 6 with a triple, two RBI and three runs scored. Roach also posted a two-hit game as he connected on his first home run as a Buccaneer and scored two runs.
Freshman lefty Jamin McCann (Kingsport, Tenn.) got the start and earned the win (2-1) after issuing one run on two hits in two innings of work. Following McCann’s stint, the Bucs used six relievers to secure the win as Derek Bushey (Richmond, Va.), Will Chesney (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Freeman recorded scoreless outings. Bushey worked a scoreless frame in the fifth, Chesney retired the lone hitter he faced in the seventh, and Freeman held the Catamounts without a hit to earn the six-out save. Freeman walked two and struck out three to convert on his 11th straight save – a streak that dates back to last season.
As a team, the Bucs tied a season high with 14 hits, while the 12 runs scored were the most by the Blue and Gold this season.
Along with ending Western Carolina’s 21-game home win streak (the nation’s longest), ETSU also snapped a pair of losing skids of its own. Tonight’s win marked the Bucs’ their first victory over Western Carolina since May 16, 2006, while it was ETSU’s first win in Cullowhee since April 9, 2005. Ironically, the Catamounts’ last home setback was on April 9, 2013, when Western Carolina fell to Clemson, 12-9.
With the win, ETSU improved to 9-11, while Western Carolina – the reigning Southern Conference regular season champions – dipped to 11-8.
Prior to ETSU’s four-run outburst in the third and fourth innings, the Catamounts took the early lead when Dykota Spiess led off the second inning with a home run to right, putting Western Carolina ahead, 1-0.
Fortunately, the Blue and Gold answered the challenge and never looked back as the Bucs led 9-2 midway through the game.
In the third, Roach and Sorrow both hit their first home runs in an ETSU uniform, while Freeman ripped an RBI single to right and Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.) – who reached on a four-pitch walk – scored on a wild pitch by Nate Williams, giving the Bucs a 4-1 lead.
After Western Carolina pushed a run across in the bottom of the third, the Buccaneer offense continued to surge by plating four more runs in the top of the fourth. Roach led off the inning with a single to center and later scored on an RBI single by Sorrow. From there, Taylor – who reached on an error – scored via a wild pitch, while Freeman capped off the big inning with a two-run homer to left-center, making it a six-run advantage (8-2) for the Blue and Gold.
ETSU added a run on an RBI single by Freeman in the sixth, but after having the bases loaded with no outs, the Blue and Gold were unable to make a larger dent in the scoreboard. Bryce Danielson struck out Trey York (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Andrew Lasure (Stanford, Ky.), while Adam Martin robbed Roach of extra bases with a leaping grab in right-center, keeping it a 9-2 ballgame.
Things rapidly shifted in favor of Western Carolina in the bottom half of the inning as the Catamounts scored six runs in the sixth to make it a 9-8 score. The first six Western Carolina hitters reached to start the inning and Aaron Attaway finished things off with a three-run homer to left-center, which pulled the Catamounts within a run. Prior to the three-run homer, Cody Jones drove in the first run of the inning with a single, while Danny Bermudez plated a pair with a double to right.
With momentum on the side of the Catamounts, ETSU never crumbled and quickly restored its energy to add to its lead.
The Bucs gained a little breathing room with a two-run seventh, as Taylor scored Sorrow and Zach Thompson (Johnson City, Tenn.) with a triple to right-center, extending ETSU’s lead to 11-8. When the dust settled, Taylor’s triple proved to drive in the eventual game-winning run.
Western Carolina got a run closer in the bottom half of the inning when J.D. Long’s two-out RBI double made it, 11-9, but Chesney entered out of the pen to work out of the jam. With the tying run at second, Chesney forced Attaway into an inning-ending fly out to left-center.
From there, the Bucs finished off the scoring when Sorrow’s two-out RBI single added to ETSU’s lead in the eighth, and Freeman shut the door by earning the six-out save to snap the streaks. The Catamounts threatened in the bottom of the ninth when Freeman walked two of the first three hitters to start the inning, but the southpaw rallied back to strike out Bermudez swinging and forced pinch hitter Taylor Sandefur to tap into a game-ending roller back to the mound.
Western Carolina starter Alex Barr suffered the loss (0-1) as he was charged with four runs on three hits in 2.1 innings.
Like the Bucs, the Catamounts also pounded out 14 hits and were led by Spiess and Jones. Both players finished with three hits each and scored four runs.
The Bucs return home to open Atlantic Sun Conference play Friday night when ETSU hosts Stetson at 7:05 p.m. at Thomas Stadium.
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