JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (May 3, 2014) – For the second time this week and fifth time this season, the ETSU baseball team celebrated with a walk-off win.
On Wednesday, junior Chris Riopedre (Miami, Fla.) provided the heroics with a walk-off triple over Radford, while sophomore Andrew Lasure (Stanford, Ky.) delivered the knockout punch when his pinch-hit ground-rule double to center in the bottom of the ninth inning lifted the Bucs to a 3-2 series-clinching win over USC Upstate on Saturday afternoon at Thomas Stadium.
Fresh off their 16-hit performance in the series opener, the Blue and Gold only registered six hits but ETSU made good-use of the six hits (five singles) to post its eighth win when being out-hit this season. USC Upstate, who went 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position, finished with 10 hits and left 13 runners stranded.
Sophomore Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.) went 2-for-4 with an RBI as his single in the fifth tied the game at one, while Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.), Jordan Sanford (Powell, Tenn.), and Gage Downey (Franklin, Tenn.) joined Lasure and Taylor with hits. Cook extended his hit streak to 14 games after beating out an infield single in the seventh, while Chris Riopedre (Miami, Fla.) had ETSU’s other RBI when he worked a bases loaded walk in the fifth to put the Bucs ahead, 2-1. Sanford, who reached base three times, scored two of the three runs. The Powell, Tenn. native scored the winning run as he sprinted home from second on Lasure’s rocket walk-off ground-rule double.
In a game that featured plenty of defense and strong pitching, ETSU was able to work out of a plethora of jams to earn its fourth Atlantic Sun series win – all coming at home. The Bucs have now won nine of their 11 conference games at Thomas Stadium and improved to 23-22, 10-9 in A-Sun play, while the Spartans suffered their eighth straight loss and dipped to 14-32, 4-15.
The Bucs played from behind early as USC Upstate plated a run in the first, but ETSU starter Jamin McCann (Kingsport, Tenn.) did a tremendous job working out of trouble in the second, third, and fourth innings to keep it a one-run game.
The Spartans left a runner stranded at third in the second, while McCann worked around leadoff doubles in the third and fourth innings before the Blue and Gold gave the freshman southpaw the 2-1 lead in the fifth. Again, after working out of a dicey situation in the top of the inning, ETSU came through with some key plays in the bottom of the fifth as Sanford worked a walk to start the inning and scored on Taylor’s one-out single. Then, with two outs and runners on second and third, Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.) was intentionally walked, but the call backfired as Riopedre worked a seven-pitch walk to bring home the go-ahead run in Gage Downey – who singled earlier in the inning.
However, USC Upstate fought back in the top of the sixth and tied it at two. Following a two-out walk by McCann, head coach Tony Skole went to the bullpen and brought in right-hander Derek Bushey (Richmond, Va.), but Tyler Lesch greeted the red-shirt senior hurler with an RBI double to right-center to tie things up.
From there, the Bucs were unable to get anything going offensively off Spartan starter David Roseboom as the southpaw held ETSU to one hit through the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, while USC Upstate again left runners in scoring position in the eighth and ninth innings.
In the eighth, the Spartans had runners on first and second following a pair of two-out walks by Freeman, but the senior left-hander struck out Daniel Seeba swinging to end the inning. In the ninth, Luke Weber ripped a one-out double, but Kevin Phillips (St. Louis, Mo.) robbed Stephen Dowling of an RBI hit when he snagged a liner at first – and for the second straight frame – Freeman got out of a jam by registering a strikeout to end a potential scoring threat.
Fortunately, USC Upstate went to its bullpen in the ninth as second baseman Erik Samples moved to the mound to start the inning, but the right-hander put himself in a bind when he plunked Sanford to start the frame. Following a sac-bunt by Trey York (Knoxville, Tenn.), Lasure’s number was called and he came through with his third pinch hit of the season, lifting the Blue and Gold to the series victory.
Freeman earned the win (2-4) after allowing one hit, while walking and striking out a pair, and Samples took the loss (5-2) after surrendering the walk-off hit. McCann recorded his second straight no-decision after being charged with two runs on seven hits in 5.2 innings. The left-hander also walked and struck out three hitters, while senior Will Chesney (Knoxville, Tenn.) worked a scoreless frame for the second straight day in the seventh. Roseboom allowed two runs on five hits and struck out five (walked three) in eight innings to pick up a no-decision.
Lesch and Samples both had three-hit days for USC Upstate in the losing effort.
The Bucs look to sweep their second straight conference home series on Sunday afternoon. First pitch is set for 1:05 p.m. as senior right-hander Logan Rice (Erwin, Tenn.) takes to the hill for the Blue and Gold.
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