FORT MYERS, Fla. (Mar. 24, 2012) – Derek Bushey (Richmond, Va.) set a new career-high with nine strikeouts over seven strong innings and Dylan Pratt (Johnson City, Tenn.) clubbed two home runs to propel the ETSU baseball team past Florida Gulf Coast, 7-2, Saturday afternoon in game two of the series at Swanson Stadium.
Bushey (2-2) earned his second victory after undoubtedly his strongest outing of the season. Bushey only allowed two hits and three walks, while his nine strikeouts were the most by any ETSU pitcher so far this year. FGCU starting pitcher Andrew Polly (2-2) was charged with the loss after allowing five hits and four runs in three innings.
Meanwhile, Pratt was 2-for-4 with two home runs and three RBI to lead an ETSU offense that pounded out 11 hits on the afternoon. Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.) and Kerry Doane (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) each matched Pratt with two hits in the game. Catcher Mason Hershey (Altoona, Pa.) was 1-for-3 with his first two RBI of the season.
ETSU got on the scoreboard first with two runs on three hits in the top of the second inning. Doane got the Bucs going with a leadoff single to center field and Green followed two batters later with a base-hit to right – putting runners on the corners with just one out. Hershey reached on a squeeze bunt as Polly fielded the bunt and tried to throw out Doane at the plate, but Doane slid in safely to give the Bucs the early advantage. Then, freshman Jordan Sanford (Powell, Tenn.) kept the rally going with a single to right field to load the bases. Derek Niesman (Wellington, Fla.) dropped down a perfect RBI sacrifice bunt to allow Green to score – giving the Bucs a 2-0 lead.
The Bucs plated two runs in the fourth off the bat of Pratt. After Freeman led off the inning with a single through the right side, Pratt followed with an opposite field two-run homer – his sixth home run of the season – giving ETSU a 4-0 advantage.
Pratt led off the eighth inning with his second homer of the day – off the scoreboard in right center – his seventh bomb of the year. Two batters later, John Long (Anderson, S.C.) doubled down the left field line with one out in the inning. Then, with two outs in the frame, Hershey drilled a double over center fielder Ryan Gebhart’s head to drive in pinch runner Zach Thompson (Johnson City, Tenn.) from second base.
FGCU finally got on the scoreboard in the bottom half of the eighth inning as the Eagles got two runs of their own. ETSU called upon Freeman to replace Bushey in the inning and Kevin Young reached base on a pinch hit single up the middle with one out. After getting Ryan Gebhart to fly out for the second out, Brandon Bednar followed with a ground ball to Doane at short, but Doane’s throw to first was wide of the bag – putting runners on first and second with two outs. Catcher Andrew Valencia cleared the bases with a two-run double to right center – making the score 6-2.
ETSU added another insurance run in the ninth after a two-out rally. Freeman singled to right field with two-outs and Pratt walked on four straight pitches. After FGCU called upon Tyson Young to the mound, Doane greeted him with a RBI single through the right side – scoring Freeman from second.
Mike Reeves led FGCU at the plate with a 2-for-4 day, while Valencia had the only two RBI of the day for the Eagles on his two-run double.
The rubber match between ETSU and FGCU will begin at noon tomorrow inside Swanson Stadium. ETSU will send right-hander Jake Long (Anderson, S.C.) to the mound to face FGCU righty Jason Forjet.
- Derek Bushey struck out a career-high nine batters. His previous high was seven, which he accomplished on four occasions.
- The nine strikeouts by Bushey were also the most by an ETSU pitcher this season – breaking the previous high of seven, which was done four times this year.
- With his hit in the fourth inning, Clinton Freeman has now reached base in 15 consecutive games.
- After his 2-for-4 day, Freeman recorded his team-leading 11th multi-hit game of the season.
- Andrew Green extended his hitting streak to six straight games after going 1-for-4 on Saturday.
- Dylan Pratt now leads the team with six multiple RBI games this year.
- The two RBI by catcher Mason Hershey were the first of his ETSU career.
- Saturday’s victory for the Bucs was their first ever at Swanson Stadium. Previously, the Bucs were 0-7 all-time in Ft. Myers. FGCU now leads the all-time series against ETSU 11-4.
For more information on ETSU baseball, please visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the baseball link.