JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 23, 2013) – Chris Riopedre (Miami, Fla.) couldn’t had scripted it any better.
With two outs and the game tied at eight, the Buccaneer sophomore took the first pitch he saw from Mike Genovese and belted a walk-off home run over the wall in left to rally the ETSU baseball team past Seton Hall, 9-8, on Saturday afternoon from Thomas Stadium.
The home run, which was the first of Riopedre’s collegiate career, capped off a 2-for-5 afternoon for the Miami, Fla. native. Riopedre also scored three runs and drove in two. Riopedre, Andrew Green (Powell, Tenn.), Dylan Tritsch (Boca Raton, Fla.), and Zach Thompson (Johnson City, Tenn.) accounted for 10 of ETSU’s 14 hits. Green – who has now hit safely in nine straight games – was 3-for-4 with a double, home run, run scored, and two RBI, while Tritsch also recorded a three-hit day and scored twice. Thompson reached base three times (two hits and a walk) for the Blue and Gold as he drove in Trey York (Knoxville, Tenn.) with a triple in the fourth and later scored on Riopedre’s single.
Junior Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.) pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to record the win (1-0), while Genovese suffered the loss (0-1) after allowing the home run to Riopedre.
Despite trailing by four after 3.5 innings and by three heading into the bottom of the eighth, the Bucs continued to fight and pulled even at eight, thanks to a three-run eighth inning. From there, Riopedre worked his magic by sending the Bucs home with their fifth straight win as ETSU improved to 5-1 on the season. Meanwhile, Seton Hall – who opened the season at No. 1 North Carolina last weekend – dropped to 0-4.
Seton Hall jumped out to the early 4-0 lead after scoring twice in the third and pushed across two more in the fourth, but the Bucs sent all nine batters to the plate in the bottom half of the fourth and scored five runs on five hits to take the one-run advantage, 5-4. York began the inning with a hard single to short, while Thompson drove him in with a triple to right-center. Following Thompson’s second career three-bagger, Seton Hall made a pitching change, and Conor Krauss hit the first batter he faced – Mason Hershey (Altoona, Pa.). With no outs and runners on the corners, Riopedre came through with his first big hit of the game as he found the gap between third and short to single home Thompson, making it a 5-2 contest. The fun wasn’t done as Tritsch later scored Hershey on an RBI single up the middle, and with two outs and runners on first and second, senior Derek Niesman (Wellington, Fla.) came through with a clutch hit. Niesman singled to right to score Riopedre, while Tritsch came around to score from first after Scott Kalamar had trouble fielding the bounce on Niesman’s single to put the Blue and Gold ahead by one.
After both teams were sent down in order in the fifth, the Pirates scored four two-out runs to regain an 8-5 lead in the sixth. Seton Hall picked up RBI singles by Kyle Grimm, Sal Annunziata, and Kalmar, while Guiseppe Papaccio capped off the scoring spree with a double to left.
However, junior newcomer Jared Burton (Knoxville, Tenn.) relieved Logan Rice (Erwin, Tenn.) to end the inning and the Buccaneer bullpen silenced Seton Hall’s offense from that point forward. Burton, Will Chesney (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Freeman held the Pirates without a hit for the final 3.1 innings of play.
With the bullpen doing its job, ETSU’s hitters provided the offensive spark in the eighth and ninth innings to cap off the rally. For the second straight day, Green registered a homer as his two-run blast to right-center in the eighth pulled the Bucs within a run, while Alex Reynolds’ (Johnson City, Tenn.) two-out pinch hit single scored Tritsch to tie it at eight.
Fortunately, the Bucs weren't done scoring as Freeman came in to shut down Seton Hall in the top of the ninth, and Riopedre sent the crowd into a frenzy when he flexed his muscles and went yard with two outs in the ninth – giving the Blue and Gold a 9-8 victory.
Seven different Seton Hall players contributed to its eight-hit game, as Grimm led the way with a pair of hits at the plate. Grimm also drove in two, while Ryan Sullivan hit his first home run of the season with a solo homer to lead off the third.
The final game of the series will get underway Sunday afternoon at 1:05 p.m., from Thomas Stadium. Sophomore Jimmy Nesselt (Plantation, Fla.) gets the start for the Bucs, while Seton Hall has yet to name a starter.
ETSU fans wanting to receive Buccaneer news, score updates, in-game promotions and much more sent to their mobile device can do so by signing up for “Buc Updates.” Click here to sign up today!
For more information on Buccaneer baseball, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the baseball link.
- The Bucs’ five-game winning streak is their longest since winning eight straight from April 23-May 7, 2011
- A win on Sunday would also give ETSU its first series sweep since taking three from St. Joseph’s last Feb. 24-26
- The walk-off hit by Chris Riopedre was the first walk-off hit by a Buc since Matthew Scruggs’ game-winning single against Indiana back on March 2, 2012
- Derek Niesman has reached base in all six games to start the year
- Clinton Freeman’s double in the sixth extended his hitting streak to nine straight games, dating back to last season
- Andrew Green has also hit safely in his last nine games, while he has homered in back-to-back games for the second time in his career (March 17 and 19, 2010 against Tennessee Tech and USC Upstate)
- ETSU has scored 45 runs (nine per game) during this five-game winning streak, along with generating 10 doubles, three triples, and eight home runs