Buccaneer Baseball defeats Niagara, 5-4, in season opener
Buccaneer Baseball defeats Niagara, 5-4, in season opener
Friday, February 18, 2005

            After junior righty Jeremy Hall (Gray, Tenn.) worked out of a jam to hold Niagara (0-1) scoreless in the top of the first inning, Crowe belted a solo home run over the right-centerfield wall in his first ETSU (1-0) at-bat to give the Bucs a 1-0 lead.

            Hall made that lead stand up until the bottom of the third when the Bucs would add two more runs. Junior right fielder Shane Byrne (Johnson City, Tenn.) hit a double with one out then crossed the plate on a two-out double by junior first baseman Blake Church (Roswell, Ga.). Sophomore left fielder Stephen Douglas (Kennesaw, Ga.) then doubled to left-center to score Church.

            ETSU put another run on the board in the bottom of the sixth to make the score 4-0. Douglas hit an infield single and advanced to second on a throwing error. A similar play followed as sophomore third baseman Mike Giroud (St. Petersburg, Fla.) hit another infield single, with Douglas scoring on another throwing error.

            The Purple Eagles stormed back in the top of the seventh, scoring three runs to cut their deficit to one. Matt Schaefer hit a one-out single and advanced to second on a two-out single by Mike Alati. A walk by Reed Eastley loaded the bases and a subsequent walk by Paul Solini forced Schaefer home with Niagara's first run. Andrew MacNevin then came to the plate and singled to right, scoring both Eastley and Alati.

            Niagara tied up the game with another run in the top of the eighth inning. Pinch-hitter Chris Leendertse singled up the middle with one out, and was replaced by pinch-runner Ray Ciancaglini. Andrew MacDonald then came to the plate and hammered a triple to deep center field to score Ciancaglini with the game-tying run.

            But the Bucs responded almost immediately, breaking the tie in the bottom of the eighth. Giroud led off the inning with a walk and was replaced by pinch-runner Greg Roberts (Douglas, Ga.). Junior centerfielder Matt Traylor (Knoxville, Tenn.) moved Roberts to second with a sacrifice bunt, then junior shortstop Josiah Glafenhein (Knoxville, Tenn.) reached on an intentional walk. Sophomore catcher John Weddle (Knoxville, Tenn.) walked to load the bases for Crowe who singled to centerfield to bring home Roberts with the eventual game-winning run.

            Senior closer Caleb Moore (Knoxville, Tenn.) retired the Purple Eagles in order in the ninth to earn the win (1-0). Kyle Nicoletta (0-1) was charged with the loss for Niagara after giving up a run on one hit and three walks in an inning pitched.

            Hall pitched well for ETSU, allowing two runs on four hits in 6.2 innings pitched. He also walked five and struck out six on the afternoon.

            The Bucs were led at the plate by Crowe, who went 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI. Church went 2-for-2 with a run scored, an RBI and a pair of walks while Douglas went 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI.

            "Nick (Crowe) had a great day and Jeremy (Hall) was equally strong on the mound," said ETSU head coach Tony Skole following the game.

            Alati paced Niagara, going 2-for-5 with a run scored. Five other Purple Eagles registered one hit in the game.

            "It is always good to get that first victory of the season," said Skole. "I am proud of the way our guys came back and found a way to win. Niagara has a good ball club and we will have to come back tomorrow and play batter to have a chance to win."
            The Bucs and Purple Eagles conclude their three-game series with a doubleheader Saturday at
noon from Cardinal Park in Johnson City, Tenn.