JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Mar. 19, 2004) - UNC Greensboro starter Scooter Michael turned in a strong performance and first baseman Justin Crist delivered several timely hits as UNCG defeated East Tennessee State, 7-3, in the opener of a SoCon weekend series Friday night from Cardinal Park in Johnson City, Tenn.
The Spartans (14-3, 3-1 Southern Conference) got on the board quickly, scoring two runs in the top of the first. Second baseman Jeremy Roulin walked and advanced to second on a single to left by center fielder Ryan Gordon. Both baserunners moved up on a balk before Roulin crossed the plate on a single by Crist and Gordon came home on an RBI ground out by left fielder Ryan Brincat.
East Tennessee State (11-12, 2-5 SoCon) tied the score at two in the bottom of the second. With one out, sophomore second baseman Josiah Glafenhein (Knoxville, Tenn.) doubled to left center. He was on base as freshman designated hitter Stephen Douglas (Kennesaw, Ga.) hit a towering two-run homer over the left-center field wall. Douglas' second home run of the season extended his hitting streak to seven games.
But UNCG would answer, scoring single runs in the third, fourth and fifth to take the lead for good. Crist hit an RBI single in the third, shortstop Danny Valencia hit a solo homer in the fourth and Crist drove in another run with an RBI ground out in the fifth.
The Bucs plated their final run in the bottom of the sixth. Sophomore left fielder Matt Traylor (Knoxville, Tenn.) and sophomore right fielder Shane Byrne (Johnson City, Tenn.) led of the inning with back-to-back singles to right. After a strikeout by Michael, sophomore first baseman Blake Church (Roswell, Ga.) laced a single to right to score Traylor and give the Bucs runners on the corners with one down. But Michael struck out the next two batters to end the inning and the potential rally.
Crist capped his phenomenal evening by driving in UNCG's final two runs of the inning with an RBI single in the seventh and a RBI double in the ninth.
"UNC Greensboro simply played better than we did tonight," said ETSU head coach Tony Skole following the game. "We had opportunities to make a run but we just did not get the big hits with runners in scoring position."
Michael (4-0) was sharp for the Spartans, pitching eight innings and allowing three runs on eight hits while striking out a season-high 10. ETSU sophomore righty Jeremy Hall (Gray, Tenn.) was charged with the loss (4-3), ending his four-start winning streak. Hall went 6.1 innings and allowed six runs on 10 hits while walking two and striking out three.
Crist had a career evening at the plate, going 4-for-5 while driving in five of UNCG's seven runs. Gordon collected three hits in four at-bats while Roulin scored four runs.
Traylor led the Bucs with three hits in four at-bats while Glafenhein had two hits on the evening.
"Hopefully we can flush this out of our system and come out and play well tomorrow," said Skole.
Game two of the three-game weekend series between the Bucs and Spartans will be played tomorrow at 2 p.m. from Cardinal Park in Johnson City, Tenn.