Johnson City, Tenn. -- East Tennessee State senior Ryan McKinney went 3-5 with four runs batted in to lead the Bucs in a 10-9 thriller against The Citadel in Southern Conference baseball action at ETSUs Cardinal Park.
Also leading the Buc offense was senior Andy Baxter -- 3-5, three runs scored -- and junior Brandon Cross -- 2-5, two runs scored, two RBIs. On the mound, freshman Donnie Sharp (2-1) earned the win after pitching the final 2.2 innings, allowing just one hit. The rookie delighted the home crowd with a game-ending strikeout of Andy Phillips with runners on first and third.
The Bulldogs Jason Randall continued his hot hitting, going 3-4 with three runs scored and two RBI, in the contest. Reliever Randy Corn suffered the loss after allowing the final two runs in his 2.0 innings pitched.
The Citadel (20-6, 8-1 Southern Conference) opened the game with one in the top of the first. Daryl Bird was hit by a pitch, stole two bases and later scored the games first run. ETSU responded with three runs in their first at bat. The first three batters reached and scored, two on RBI groundouts from Nathan Copeland and Cross.
Two Bulldog runs in the second tied the game at 3-3. Randall and David Griffin led off the inning by reaching base and later scored on a groundout by Hudson Belk and a single by Phillips. In the third, Buc starter Matt Hensley allowed a leadoff double by McPherson but closed the door with two groundouts and a strikeout.
The Bucs captured a 4-3 lead with a run in the third. Second baseman Brandon Cross singled and scored on a McKinney single. The Citadels Griffin led off the fourth with a single, moved to third on two groundouts and scored on a Phillips single.
Randall banged a two-run double in the fifth to give the visitors a 6-4 lead. An RBI single by Michael Mainor increased the lead to three runs. The Bucs answered with two runs in the fifth. Chad Boruff led off the frame with a walk and was followed by Tim Turner reaching on an error. A double by McKinney brought home both runs to cut the score to 7-6.
ETSU used two runs in the sixth to take an 8-7 lead. Baxter reached on an error and later scored on an RBI single by Cross. Cross scored the go-ahead run on a seeing-eye single from McKinney. The Bulldogs knotted the score, 8-8, on a sacrifice fly by pinch hitter Brook Dantzler that plated Phillip Hartig in the seventh. The Citadel took the lead when Belk singled up the middle to score Randall.
The cat-and-mouse game continued as ETSU scored a pair of runs in the seventh to take a 10-9 lead. Both of the Bucs runs scored when Citadel third baseman Chip Cannons throw sailed over the first baseman to allow Kirk Keithley and Baxter to cross the plate.
ETSU returns to action at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, March 20 when it hosts Radford in non-conference action.