SPARTANBURG, S.C. (March 15, 2013) – Freshman Griffin Krieg (Nashville, Tenn.) and junior Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.) combined for a six-hit shutout and senior Alex Reynolds (Johnson City, Tenn.) gave the Bucs all the offense they needed with a solo homer in the third, as the ETSU baseball team opened the Atlantic Sun season with an 8-0 victory over USC Upstate on Friday night at Harley Park.
Krieg – who allowed four hits, while issuing two walks and striking out one in the eight innings of work – received two key defensive plays by shortstop Chris Riopedre (Miami, Fla.) and left fielder Dylan Tritsch (Boca Raton, Fla.) to keep the shutout intact. The freshman right-hander improved to 2-0 with the win and has now tossed 11 straight scoreless innings to lower his ERA from 6.60 to 4.30 following the solid pitching performance.
Despite Reynolds’ first home run of the season in the third, the Bucs (11-4, 1-0 A-Sun) couldn’t push any more runs across the plate until the Blue and Gold struck for seven runs off USC Upstate (10-6, 0-1) starter Brandon Lee in the ninth to break the game open. Senior Mason Hershey (Altoona, Pa.) provided ETSU with a key two-run scoring double, while Freeman capped off the scoring with a three-run shot to right-center – giving the Bucs an eight-run cushion.
Seven different players accounted for the nine ETSU hits, with Reynolds and Tritsch registering two-hit games, while Freeman extended his streak of reaching base safely to 18 straight games. The Jonesborough, Tenn. native also pitched the ninth to extend his consecutive scoreless innings streak to 10.1 to start the season.
After both teams were held scoreless in the first two innings, Reynolds took advantage of the wind gusts carrying to right-center as his leadoff home run in the third gave ETSU the 1-0 lead.
ETSU threatened in fourth when Andrew Green (Powell, Tenn.) laid down a perfect bunt single, but couldn’t score after Lee worked out of the jam. The Powell, Tenn. native moved over to second on a Derek Niesman (Wellington, Fla.) sac-bunt and advanced to third on Zach Thompson’s (Johnson City, Tenn.) ground out to second; however, he was left stranded when Lee induced Riopedre into an inning-ending grounder to third.
Krieg – who retired the first nine USC Upstate hitters he faced – worked out of some trouble in the fourth to keep ETSU’s 1-0 lead in store. Jordan Stampler led off the inning with an infield single and moved to second when Tyler Lesch flied out to the warning track in right. Then, following a two-out walk to Daniel Seeba, Riopedre robbed Brandon Patterson of an RBI hit as he dove to his left on the grounder and flipped to second for the inning-ending force out.
The Blue and Gold missed a golden opportunity to break the game open as ETSU had the bases loaded with nobody out in the sixth, but the Bucs couldn’t scratch across a run. Lee got out of the sticky situation as Niesman lined into a double play at second, while Erik Samples robbed Thompson of an RBI single at second to end the inning and keeping it a one-run contest.
Once again, Krieg got some solid defense behind him in the bottom half of the frame to keep ETSU’s 1-0 lead on the board. With one out and runners on first and second, the freshman right-hander got Gaither Bumgardner – the reigning A-Sun Player of the Year – to fly out to right, which led to Tritsch’s heroics on the next play. Seeba hit a single to left, but with Upstate sending Stampler home on the hit, Tritsch threw a strike to Hershey at the plate to gun down the tying run and holding the Spartans scoreless.
USC Upstate left the tying run at third in the seventh and at second in the eighth, but after not being able to generate any more runs following the Reynolds blast in the third, the Blue and Gold came through in the ninth. ETSU scored seven runs on four hits and took advantage of three crucial Spartan errors to make it an eight-run advantage, courtesy of the big hits by Hershey and Freeman. Freeman’s three-run homer marked his seventh round-tripper of the season, as the ball got out in a hurry and cleared the 383-foot sign in right-center.
The Spartans loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning, but Freeman finished off the shutout by forcing Tyler Miller to foul out to first.
Lee suffered his first loss of the season and dropped to 4-1 after being charged with eight runs (seven earned) on nine hits in 8.1 innings of work. Meanwhile, Bumgardner was held hitless in four at-bats, whereas, Seeba posted two of the six hits for USC Upstate – who was shutout for the first time this season.
Game two of the series is set for 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon. The Bucs send Kerry Doane (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) to the mound, while the Spartans counter with left-handed hurler David Roseboom.
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