JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (March 2, 2013) – Extra-inning heroics were in store for junior Dylan Tritsch (Boca Raton, Fla.) yet again for the Bucs on Saturday night.
For the second time in less than a week, the ETSU outfielder provided the Blue and Gold with a walk-off hit as his RBI single in the bottom of the 11th rallied the Bucs past Marist, 9-8, from a snowy Thomas Stadium.
Despite trailing 8-1 through four complete innings and by two runs with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the “Comeback Bucs” continued to find a way to pull out another dramatic victory. Junior Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.) provided the key hit in ninth to send the game into extras as his triple to the left-center wall scored Andrew Green (Powell, Tenn.) from first, while the Buccaneer slugger sprinted home to tie it at eight after the Marist throw on the relay was offline at third. Freeman – who moved from first to the pitcher’s mound with two outs in the ninth – earned his third straight winning decision (3-0) after tossing 2.1 innings of scoreless ball. In the end, it was the ETSU bullpen which set up the late-inning rally as Logan Rice (Erwin, Tenn.), Sam Eichler (Mission Viejo, Calif.), Will Chesney (Knoxville, Tenn.), and Freeman combined to only give up one run on six hits in 7.2 innings of work.
Meanwhile, Freeman also provided the Blue and Gold with a powerful day at the plate as the Jonesborough, Tenn. native went 3-for-5 with a double, two triples, one run scored, and two RBI. Tritsch – who generated the walk-off hit in the bottom of the 10th inning last Sunday against Seton Hall – finished with a two-hit day as he posted a double and three RBI in the comeback win. Overall, the Bucs tied their season high in hits (15), while ETSU is averaging over seven runs and nine hits during this eight-game home winning streak.
The Bucs (8-2) fell down early as Marist scored its first runs of the series in the third inning to take a 3-0 lead. Mike Orefice led off the inning with a home run to right, and after Zachary Passerelle worked a one-out walk, he scored on Matt Pagano’s two-out triple to left-center, giving Marist a two-run cushion. The Red Foxes continued with their clutch two-out hitting as Pagano touched home on Mark Brennan’s single to right to make it a three-run advantage.
The Bucs responded with a run in the bottom half of the frame when Chris Riopedre’s (Miami, Fla.) one-out RBI grounder to second plated Derek Niesman (Wellington, Fla.), cutting ETSU’s deficit to 3-1.
Unfortunately, the Red Foxes broke the game open in the fourth when Orefice went yard for the second time and his grand slam made it an 8-1 game.
Despite the seven-run deficit, ETSU didn’t fold and were determined to keep its home winning streak intact.
ETSU scored four in the fifth and added one more in the sixth, pulling the Bucs within two runs of the Red Foxes, 8-6. Alex Reynolds (Johnson City, Tenn.) and Riopedre led off the fifth with back-to-back singles, and after Marist starter Kevin McCarthy got the next two ETSU hitters out, Green started the rally with an infield single. The Buccaneer speedster reached on a hit to short and Riopedre scored the first run of the inning when Zach Shank’s throw to first went down the line in right, moving Green to second and Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.) to third. From there, Tritsch came through with his first big hit of the game as he drove in both runners by doubling to the gap in left-center and later crossed the plate on the first Freeman triple.
Again, the Bucs used two-out hitting to make it an 8-6 game in the sixth as Taylor’s two-out RBI single to center field brought in Reynolds from second.
With the bullpen holding the Red Foxes scoreless, ETSU rewarded the strong pitching efforts with the two-run ninth to pull even at eight.
After the pen worked out of a jam in the top of the top of the ninth as Chesney struck out Pagano looking with runners on second and third, Green started the rally by getting hit by a pitch with one out in the bottom of the frame. Following a Tritsch strikeout, Freeman ripped the first pitch he saw off Evan Davis and sent one sailing off the wall in left-center. With Freeman charging his way around the bases, Shank tried to gun the junior two-way player out at third, but his throw was off the mark, which allowed the tying run to come across the plate.
Marist threatened in the 10th as Petrone and Pat Welsh recorded one out singles, but Freeman kept the runners from coming home by forcing the next two hitters to fly out.
Following the threat, ETSU’s offense came back alive in the 11th as Mason Hershey (Altoona, Pa.) and Taylor reached via singles to start the inning. Despite Green not being able to execute on a sac-bunt opportunity, he hit a dribbler back to the mound, but Petrone dropped the ball at third to load the bases for Tritsch. Then, on a 1-0 count, Tritsch singled home Hershey for the game-winning run to cap off the incredible comeback.
Davis – who was making his first appearance of the season – suffered the loss (0-1) after allowing three runs (one earned) on four hits in two innings of relief. McCarthy was tagged for six runs (five earned) on 11 hits and struck out nine in eight innings.
Freshman right-hander Griffin Krieg (Nashville, Tenn.) got the start for the Blue and Gold, but he only lasted 3.1 inning after issuing seven runs (six earned) on seven hits, while walking four.
With the loss, Marist dropped to 2-4 on the season, while the Bucs are now 4-1 all-time against the Red Foxes.
The Bucs will be gunning for their second straight weekend sweep on Sunday afternoon as the series finale is set for 1:05 p.m., at Thomas Stadium. Sophomore righty Jimmy Nesselt (Plantation, Fla.) will start for ETSU and senior right-hander Brett Houseal goes for the Red Foxes.
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.