JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 16, 2013) – Freshman starter Griffin Krieg (Nashville, Tenn.) gave the Bucs five strong innings and the offense provided him with clutching hitting, as the ETSU baseball team forced a rubber match in the series by defeating Penn State, 8-3, on Saturday afternoon from a snowy Thomas Stadium.
Despite game time temperatures dipping below freezing and snow flurries coming down, the Bucs overcame the elements and heated up offensively. The Blue and Gold pounded out 13 hits, with junior Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.) and senior Derek Niesman (Wellington, Fla.) combining to go 7-for-9 with three runs scored and five RBI. Freeman – who has feasted on Penn State pitching in the series – was a perfect 4-for-4 with a double, RBI, and two runs scored, while Niesman went 3-for-5 with a home run, run scored and four RBIs. Overall, Freeman has seven hits in eight at-bats in the two games, along with a double, triple, two home runs, three RBIs, and five runs scored.
While seven different ETSU batters recorded a hit, the combination of Krieg, Freeman, and junior Logan Rice (Erwin, Tenn.) held the Nittany Lions to three runs on three hits. Krieg earned the win in his collegiate debut after allowing two runs on one hit in five innings, while Rice tossed three solid innings in relief and Freeman put the exclamation point on things by striking out the side in the ninth.
The Bucs overcame a shaky start, but after falling behind 2-0 through two innings of play, ETSU regained its composure and battled back for the five-run victory.
ETSU (1-1) quickly evened the game at two in the following inning thanks to the one-two punch of Freeman and Niesman. Freeman drove in the Bucs’ first run when his one-out double to left-center scored Andrew Green (Powell, Tenn.) from second, and Niesman sent a laser right back up the middle on the next at-bat to score Freeman.
After giving up the one hit and three walks in the first two innings, Krieg found his groove as he faced the minimum during the next three innings to put himself in line for the win.
The Blue and Gold took the lead for good in the fourth when Green’s two-out single to left scored Kevin Phillips (St. Louis, Mo.) from second – making it a 3-2 ballgame. Phillips reached on a one-out single to right and moved into scoring position when Mason Hershey (Altoona, Pa.) was hit in the hand.
Hershey got revenge in the sixth as his timely two-out single to left plated Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.) from third to put ETSU ahead, 4-2.
With Rice keeping the Nittany Lions scoreless in the sixth and seventh innings, the Bucs pushed another insurance run across the plate in the bottom of the seventh. With no outs and the bases loaded, freshman Trey York (Knoxville, Tenn.) scored Zach Thompson (Johnson City, Tenn.) with a fielder’s choice RBI grounder to short. Thompson – who registered a pair of hits in a pinch hit role – began the inning with a single to center.
Penn State (1-1) broke its five inning scoreless drought on Steve Snyder’s sacrifice fly to right in the eighth; however, the Bucs broke the game wide open in the bottom half of the frame on Niesman’s three-run homer. Again, it was two-out hitting that extended ETSU's lead as Thompson began the hit parade with a double to right-center – and after the Nittany Lions intentionally walked Freeman – Niesman sent a 0-1 pitch over the wall in left to make it an 8-3 game.
Freeman relieved Rice in the ninth and struck out the side to force the rubber match on Sunday.
Penn State’s Steven Hill suffered the loss after being charged with four runs on eight hits in six innings of work. Taylor Skerpon led the Nittany Lions at the plate with two hits and an RBI.
The series finale is slated for 1:05 p.m. Sunday afternoon from Thomas Stadium.
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