JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (May 5, 2012) – Senior John Long (Anderson, S.C.) allowed just one run over 7.1 innings and ETSU (21-25, 7-13 A-Sun) held off a furious ninth inning rally to defeat Jacksonville, 7-6, Saturday night at Sessions Stadium.
Trailing 7-1 in the bottom of the ninth inning, Jacksonville (15-33, 5-15 A-Sun) pushed across five runs in the final frame and had a chance to tie or take the lead with two-outs. However, Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.) struck out Adam Brett Walker with the tying run on second base to give the Bucs the victory.
The Bucs got another quality outing out of Long (6-5) as he picked up his team-leading sixth victory of the season. He allowed just the one run on 13 hits with six strikeouts. Meanwhile, JU starter Drew Woods fell to 0-3 after allowing nine hits and four runs (two earned) in 5.2 innings of work.
Freeman and Kerry Doane (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) had three hits apiece to lead the Bucs at the plate. Freeman also had an RBI, while reaching base in his 40th consecutive game. Andrew Green (Powell, Tenn.) and Skyler Barnett (Johnson City, Tenn.) also had multi-hit games with two hits each, while Green tallied an RBI. Cory Betterson (Atlanta, Ga.) recorded his first two RBIs of the season as he finished 1-for-3.
ETSU struck first in the top of the third after a RBI single by Freeman plated Green. Green led off the inning with a double to left center and Freeman followed with his 45th RBI of the season with a solid single to right field.
The Bucs pushed across three more runs in the fourth to extend their lead to 4-0. Derek Niesman (Wellington, Fla.) led off the inning by reaching on a catcher’s interference. After Doane recorded a base-hit, Chris Riopedre (Miami, Fla.) executed a sacrifice bunt that moved both runners into scoring position. Then, Betterson lined the first pitch he saw right back up the middle for a two-run single. Barnett followed by perfectly executing a hit-and-run play as he recorded a base-hit through the right side and the throw trying to get Betterson out at third was thrown away – allowing him to score.
Jacksonville got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the seventh on a RBI single by Dan Gulbransen – scoring Jonathan Murphy, who led off the inning with a single up the middle.
The Bucs tacked on three more runs on three hits in the top half of the eighth. Niesman walked to start the inning and Doane followed with a base-hit. Riopedre followed with a RBI single to center field, which scored Niesman. Then, Betterson dropped down a sacrifice bunt to move both runners into scoring position. After Doane scored on a wild pitch, Green followed with a RBI single to left field -- scoring Riopedre and giving the Bucs a 7-1 lead.
Logan Rice (Erwin, Tenn.) came on in relief of Long in the eighth with the bases loaded and only one-out. Rice struck out the first two batters he faced to get the Bucs out of the jam.
Jacksonville made a strong rally in the ninth after the first five batters of the inning reached base. After Chris Anderson recorded a two-run single with two-outs in the inning, All-American Adam Brett Walker stepped to the plate with the tying run at second. Freeman, who came on in relief of Rice, got ahead of Walker and eventually struck him out on a 1-2 pitch to pick up the save.
The rubber match of the series between ETSU and Jacksonville will begin at 1:00 p.m. tomorrow. ETSU will send junior righty Kerry Doane (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) to the mound to oppose Jacksonville right-hander Alex McRae.
For more information on ETSU baseball, please visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the baseball link.