JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (April 26, 2003) - Trailing 6-5 heading into the top of the ninth inning, Davidson put together a dramatic two-out rally to score seven runs and take a 12-6 win over East Tennessee State in Southern Conference baseball action Saturday at Howard Johnson Field.
With the win, Davidson (15-21 overall, 9-13 SoCon) takes a one-game advantage over ETSU for the eighth and final spot in the SoCon Tournament field. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers (12-27, 8-14) need a win Sunday in the final game of the series to pull even with the Wildcats in the race for a spot in the postseason.
In the ninth inning, reliever Willie McKenzie (Kingsport) came on to close out the game and quickly got two outs. However, at that point McKenzie walked Davidson's Sam Navarro, gave up a single to Michael Muniz, and pinch-hitter Erskine Wells followed with a run-scoring, game-tying single.
The trouble continued with a walk to Justin Hartanov and an error by third baseman Shane Byrne (Johnson City) that allowed Alex Entrekin to reach base. On that played, Muniz scored and the Wildcats led 7-6. From there, McKenzie hit Brett Peiffer with a pitch that scored Wells and D.J. Dailey followed with a RBI single. McKenzie was relieved by Trevor Smith (Newport), who gave up a three-run double to Eli Benefield which wrapped up the ninth-inning rally.
"It's been that type of year for us so to speak," said ETSU head coach Tony Skole. "We had well over 14 or 15 games where the game is tied or we have the lead late and we don't get the win. As a coach, there is no formula to teach your players to make them winners. You have to have kids in the program that know how to win. Instead, we're finding ways to lose games.
"We've talked about making routine plays under pressure, but we didn't do that today - especially in the ninth."
The final inning spoiled what was a solid day for the Bucs. After taking an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second and then falling behind 4-1 in the top of the fourth, ETSU scored five runs over the next three innings to hold a 6-5 lead heading into the ninth.
For the Bucs, freshman right fielder Jordan Abromovitz (South Park, Pa.) led the way offensively going 3-of-5 with two RBIs. Freshman Beau Alford (Johnson City) and junior Andy Howdeshell (Maryville) also had strong outings with two hits apiece. Davidson's Peiffer and Dailey both finished with three hits, and Dailey picked up a game-high four RBIs.
Reliever Stephen Choate (1-0) enjoyed his first win of the season, while McKenzie dropped to (0-3) after failing to pick up the save.
The Bucs and Wildcats will complete their three-game series Sunday. First pitch at Howard Johnson Field is set for 1 p.m.