JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 24, 2013) – It's safe to say the 2013 ETSU baseball team has a flair for the dramatic.
A day after Chris Riopedre (Miami, Fla.) sent the Bucs home with a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth, junior newcomer Dylan Tritsch (Boca Raton, Fla.) capped off the sweep against Seton Hall with his two-out, walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th, lifting ETSU to a thrilling 4-3 extra-inning win on Sunday afternoon at Thomas Stadium.
The Bucs jumped out to a 2-0 lead through the first five innings, but Seton Hall used a three-run sixth to take a one-run advantage.
That lead didn’t last long.
In the bottom of the inning, Riopedre tied things up with a two-out solo homer to left, and after both teams missed on scoring opportunities in the later frames, Tritsch came through with the clutch single to left, sending Seton Hall home with its fifth straight loss to start the season.
Sophomore starter Jimmy Nesselt (Plantation, Fla.) gave the Bucs eight solid innings, but earned a no-decision after he handed the ball over to junior lefty Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.) with the score still knotted at three. Freeman was brilliant in relief as he allowed two hits and fanned two in two innings to get the win. Freeman moved his mark to 2-0 on the year and received a great defensive play in the ninth as he forced pinch hitter Jon Beaubien to hit into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play. Meanwhile, Nesselt issued three runs (two earned) on seven hits, along with striking out five.
For the third time in the last four games, ETSU used late inning heroics to extend its winning streak to six straight, as the Blue and Gold matched their best seven-game start since opening the 2010 campaign with a 6-1 record.
Senior catcher Mason Hershey (Altoona, Pa.) put the Bucs on the board early as he connected on his second home run of the season, giving ETSU the 1-0 lead in the second.
The two-out scoring trend continued for the Blue and Gold two innings later, as an RBI single by Riopedre plated a hustling Zach Thompson (Johnson City, Tenn.) from second to put ETSU ahead, 2-0. Thompson led off with an infield single and moved into scoring position by stealing second. From there, Riopedre sent a 1-1 pitch into left, and despite Ryan Sullivan throwing a strike to the plate, Thompson slid under the tag to give the Blue and Gold a two-run cushion.
Unfortunately, the Pirates answered in the top of the sixth as Seton Hall registered back-to-back two-out RBI doubles from Tyler Boyd and Giuseppe Papaccio to pull even at two. Papaccio then scored the go-ahead run when Mike Genovese reached on a fielding error by Alex Reynolds (Johnson City, Tenn.) at third, making it 3-2 in favor of the visitors from South Orange, N.J.
However, just as they have done all season, the Bucs didn’t give up and quickly pulled even at three on Riopedre’s solo shot in the bottom half of the inning.
From there, Nesselt sent down Seton Hall in order by striking out two of the three Pirate hitters in the seventh, and picked up a key double play in the eighth to keep the game tied at three.
The Bucs threatened in the bottom of the eighth as ETSU had runners on second and third with only one out, but Greg Terhune left Reynolds and Jordan Sanford (Powell, Tenn.) stranded by striking out Hershey and inducing Riopedre into an inning-ending grounder to third.
Seton Hall had its chance in the ninth as Genovese and Hamlin both reached on one-out singles, but Freeman went after Beaubien and got the pinch hitter to ground into the 4-6-3 double play.
Once again, ETSU had another golden opportunity in the bottom of the ninth as Andrew Green (Powell, Tenn.) led off with an infield single, advanced to second on a passed ball, and moved to third on Tritsch’s sac-bunt. However, with the winning run standing 90 feet away, Terhune was able to work out of the jam for a second straight inning. After giving a free pass to Freeman, senior second baseman Derek Niesman (Wellington, Fla.) failed on the squeeze play, as he tapped one right back to the pitcher and Terhune got Green out at the plate for the second out of the frame. Terhune ended the inning and left runners on the corners by striking out Tyler Roach (Knoxville, Tenn.).
Freeman did his job in the 10th as he struck out two of the three Seton Hall hitters he faced, which led to the Bucs coming through in the clutch yet again.
In the bottom of the inning, Reynolds worked a leadoff walk, forcing the Pirates to make another pitching change. After D.J. Ruhlman entered out of the bullpen, Hershey moved Reynolds into scoring position by laying down a perfect sac-bunt. Ruhlman then got Riopedre to ground out to third, but a third passed ball by Seton Hall on the afternoon moved Reynolds over to third. Following Green’s second walk of the game, Tritsch came up and sent a 2-2 pitch into left for the game-winning walk-off single.
Terhune – who was one of seven different Pirate pitchers used – suffered the loss (0-1) after allowing one run on two hits in 2.2 innings of work.
Both teams pounded out nine hits each, and Tritsch and Riopedre both recorded two-hit games for the Bucs.
The Bucs hit the road for the first time in 2013 as ETSU heads down the interstate for a midweek game at Tennessee on Tuesday afternoon. First pitch is set for 3 p.m., from Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
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- The Bucs capped off their first series sweep since taking three from St. Joseph’s last Feb. 24-26
- ETSU’s six-game winning streak marks its longest since winning eight straight from April 23-May 7, 2011
- The Blue and Gold have belted a home run in all seven games to start the season
- Andrew Green’s single in the ninth extending his hitting streak to 10 straight games
- Derek Niesman has reached base in all seven games to start the year
- Clinton Freeman had hit safely in his last nine games before going hitless on Sunday … The Jonesborough, Tenn. native has still reached base safely in 10 straight games, dating back to last year