JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (March 23, 2013) – Senior right-hander Kerry Doane (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) started the day with a complete-game performance to guide the ETSU baseball team to a 3-2 victory over No. 26 Florida Gulf Coast in the first game of the doubleheader. However, despite having the game-winning run at second with two outs in the bottom of the ninth of the rubber match, FGCU closer Harrison Cooney struck out Dylan Tritsch (Boca Raton, Fla.) swinging on a 3-2 pitch, lifting the Eagles to a 10-9 victory on Saturday night at Thomas Stadium.
Doane – who tossed his third complete-game in his last four starts – moved to 4-1 on season after allowing two runs on six hits, while striking out five in the nine innings of work. Meanwhile, senior Andrew Green (Powell, Tenn.) drove in the game-winning run with a two-out RBI double to left in the fifth, and Doane was nearly flawless for the remainder of the game as he retired 12 of the final 13 Eagle hitters he faced.
In the rubber match, the Blue and Gold jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second, but FGCU quickly tied it in the top of the third, marking the first of four ties in the game. However, the Eagles took the lead for good by scoring two runs in the eighth and added the eventual winning run in the ninth to hold off a late Buccaneer rally. ETSU pushed two runs across in the bottom of the ninth on an RBI double by Jordan Sanford (Powell, Tenn.) and an RBI single from Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.), but with Daniel Tucker (Hendersonville, Tenn.) at third and Tyler Roach (Knoxville, Tenn.) at second, Cooney earned the two-inning save for his second of the weekend.
The three-game series was tightly contested as each contest was decided by one run, with FGCU outscoring ETSU by the narrowest of margins, 15-14. For the weekend, senior Alex Reynolds (Johnson City, Tenn.) hit safely in all three games and hit .444 (4-9) with two runs scored and walked three times. In addition, Green and Sanford also hit over .400 for the series as the both registered .429 batting averages.
With the split, ETSU saw its record move to 13-8, 3-3 in Atlantic Sun play, while the nationally ranked Eagles improved to 15-5, 2-1.
GAME ONE RECAP
Kerry Doane went the distance and Andrew Green’s two-out double in the bottom of the fifth scored the game-winning run as ETSU forced the rubber match after taking down FGCU, 3-2, in the first game of the doubleheader.
Doane – who retired 12 of the last 13 hitters he faced – improved to 4-1 after allowing two runs on six hits, while striking out five and walking two. Meanwhile, FGCU starter Brandon Bixler suffered his first loss of the year (2-1) as the junior lefty was tagged with all three runs on five hits in five innings of work.
Green notched his sixth multi-hit game of the season after going 2-for-3 with a double, walk, run scored, and an RBI, while Alex Reynolds reached base three times (two walks and a single).
Just like they did on Friday night, the Eagles struck first as a leadoff walk to Tyler Selesky in the top of the first paid dividends when he came around to score on Sean Dwyer’s one-out double to left-center, giving FGCU the early 1-0 lead.
ETSU quickly bounced back in a wild bottom of the second to take its first lead of the series, 2-1. Green led off the inning with a single to right, while Dyland Tritsch – who was originally called out when the umpire thought Bixler picked up the ball from Tritch’s bunt attempt and tagged the charging junior outfielder – but the crew came together and realized Bixler never had the ball when he tagged the runner, resulting in a reverse call on the field. The botched play rattled Bixler as he hit Jordan Sanford following a sac-bunt by Chris Riopedre (Miami, Fla.) to load the bases with only one out. From there, Bixler’s failed pickoff attempt to first went awry, as his throw went down the line in right, which scored Green and Tritsch; however, Sanford was called out at the plate by trying to score on the errant throw.
The Eagles tied it up at two in the top of the fourth when Michael Suchy’s one-out chopper to third scored Brandon Bednar – who reached on a one-out double to left and moved to third on a wild pitch from Doane earlier in the inning.
In the fifth, Doane’s stellar pickoff move took an FGCU run off the board, as Zack Tillery was caught napping at second for the second out of the frame, while Selesky singled to right on the next pitch which would have given the Eagles a one-run advantage. Doane worked out of a minor jam as he issued a two-out walk to Mike Reeves before getting Dwyer to fly out to left for the final out of the frame.
Then, in the bottom half of the inning, the Bucs used clutch two-out hitting to take the lead for good when Green’s double to the gap in left scored Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.), putting the Blue and Gold ahead, 3-2.
Doane was nearly untouchable after the shaky fifth as he generated three of his five strikeouts from the sixth inning on, while getting Nick Rivera out looking to end the game.
Tillery registered three of the Eagles’ six hits as he finished the game a perfect 3-for-3 with a double.
GAME TWO RECAP
In a game that saw four ties and a nip-and-tuck contest, FGCU scored at least one run from the sixth inning on and escaped for a 10-9 victory to clinch the conference series.
The series finale had the clubs total 19 runs on 29 hits, but the Eagle bullpen outlasted ETSU’s to win the series.
The Bucs had four players finish with multi-hit games as the Blue and Gold totaled 13 hits in the contest. Clinton Freeman, Dylan Tritsch, Chris Riopedre, and Kevin Phillips (St. Louis, Mo.) all generated a pair of hits, while Freeman, Riopedre and Phillips accounted for seven of the eight RBIs. Phillips went 2-for-3 with a double, run scored and season-high three RBI and Riopedre belted his fourth home run of the season along with driving in two runs.
For the first time in the series the Blue and Gold jumped out to the lead as ETSU scored a pair of runs in the second inning to grab a 2-0 advantage. Tritsch and Alex Reynolds led off the inning with consecutive singles and moved up a base on Riopedre’s sac-bunt. Following the bunt, Tritsch hustled home on a wild pitch from Michael Murray, while Reynolds trotted in on Phillips’ sacrifice fly to right.
However, the Buccaneer lead didn’t last long as FGCU struck for two runs in the top of the third to pull even at two. Alex Diaz led off the frame with a single and scored when Brandon Bednar tripled to the gap right-center. Bednar later knotted things up when he touched the plate on Sean Dwyer’s sac-fly to center.
In the fourth, the Eagles took the lead when Nick Rivera and Michael Suchy led off the inning with back-to-back home runs to left-center, giving FGCU the 4-2 advantage. The round-tripper by Rivera was his first of the season, while it also marked the first homer allowed by Freeman since last Feb. 18 against Eastern Kentucky.
Riopedre then came through with a two-out, two-run home run to tie it at four in the bottom half of the fourth, but FGCU regained its lead by pushing two across the dish in the sixth to lead, 6-4. Fortunately, Logan Rice (Erwin, Tenn.) limited the damage to only the two runs as he got out of trouble by forcing Bednar to hit into a 5-4-3 double play following the 10-pitch at-bat.
From there, Rice was taken off the hook for the loss as Phillips picked the right time to register his first extra-base hit of the season when his two-out, two-strike double to right tied it at six in the bottom of the sixth.
The nip-and-tuck game continued as the Eagles regained a one-run lead in the top of the seventh, but Jeremy Taylor led off the bottom of the frame with a single to short and moved over to second when Diaz kicked the ball away from him. The freshman outfielder advanced to third on a Derek Niesman (Wellington, Fla.) sac-bunt and Freeman brought in the tying run with an RBI groundout to second, making it a 7-7 ballgame.
Unfortunately, the Blue and Gold couldn’t get over the hump as the Eagles took the lead for good with a two-run eighth and pushed the eventual winning run across in the ninth.
But ETSU didn’t go down without a fight.
Phillips led off the inning with a single to left and Sanford drove in the freshman first baseman with a pinch hit double to right, which cut the deficit to two, 10-8. Then, with Sanford on second and the Blue and Gold down to their final out, Freeman hit a rocket past the second baseman to score Sanford, leading to Daniel Tucker coming in to run for the Jonesborough, Tenn. native. After Tyler Roach was called upon to pinch hit, the junior newcomer doubled to the gap in left-center, but Dwyer cut the ball off before it got to the wall, which stopped Tucker from scoring on the play. Cooney finished off the game by getting Tritsch out swinging on a seven-pitch at-bat to earn the save.
R.J. Brown earned the win (1-0) out of the bullpen after holding the Bucs to one unearned run on one hit in 1.1 innings of relief, while Will Chesney (Knoxville, Tenn.) suffered the loss (1-1) as he was charged with three runs on five hits in two innings.
After going 3-for-3 in the opener, Zack Tillery went 3-for-4 to finish the doubleheader 6-for-7 at the plate. Rivera and Suchy also posted three-hit games in the nightcap.
The Bucs wrap up their brief four-game homestand Tuesday night when ETSU hosts Radford at 7:05 p.m., from Thomas Stadium.
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