Charleston, S.C. (May 22, 2002) - Twice No. 8 -seed East Tennessee State took a lead over top-seeded The Citadel, but the Bulldogs came back each time and escaped with a hard-fought 7-5 win in the opening round of the Southern Conference Baseball Tournament. The loss dropped the Buccaneers to 21-24 for the season while The Citadel improved to 31-24.
Matt Traylor (Knoxville, Tenn.) got the Bucs going early, swatting the first pitch he saw from The Citadel's T.A. Fulmer over the fence in right for his seventh home run of the season. It was his fourth round-tripper in the last seven games.
The Citadel answered in its half of the first, getting a single from Matt Dean that Jason Randall followed with a shot of his own over the wall in right to put the Bulldogs up 2-1. The Bulldogs used the long ball again in the second when Chris Ard knocked one just inside the foul poll in left to make it 3-1.
Both starting pitchers took over after that, with Reid Casey (Kingsport, Tenn.) holding The Citadel without a hit until the seventh and Fulmer, who no-hit the Bucs earlier this season, striking out six through the first five innings.
Fulmer struck out the first two hitters in the sixth before walking the next two to get himself into his first jam of the contest. The Bucs made him pay when Michael Giroud (St. Petersburg, Fla.) punched a single to left to score one run before Justin Clear (Lafollette, Tenn.) put a fly ball into the corner in right for a two-run double that put ETSU back in front, 4-3.
The lead was short lived however, as The Citadel tied the game back up in the bottom of the inning, when Josh Stackley walked, moved to second, and then slid hard into third on a fielders choice play, knocking the ball out of Giroud's glove for an error. The next Bulldog hitter, Ard, then brought him home with a sac fly to right.
The Citadel added another in the seventh when Randall singled home Jon Aughey, who had led off with a walk off Casey and moved to second on a sacrifice. The Bulldogs got what proved to be the game winners with a pair of runs in the eighth off reliever Jarrod Hyder (Elizabethton, Tenn.). The first three hitters in the inning singled to load the bases before James Corn brought home one run with a sac fly and Aughey plated the other with a fielder's choice.
ETSU had a chance in the seventh, loading the bases with two outs, but Bryan Crouse (Kingston, Tenn.) bounced out to first to end the threat. The Bucs scored an unearned run in the ninth off the SoCon Pitcher of the Year, Randy Corn, when Traylor singled and went to second when Corn's pick off attempt sailed into the seats. Matt Traylor (Cumberland, Ky.) then singled him home, but that was all the Bucs would get as Corn got the next two hitters on a pop-up and a strikeout.
ETSU will take on UNC-Greensboro in an elimination game tomorrow, May 23, at 1:00 p.m. at Joseph P. Riley Park.