HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. (April 5, 2013) – It was the same story but different day for senior right-handed pitcher Kerry Doane (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.).
Despite giving up two early runs to Northern Kentucky, Doane zoned in from the fourth inning on as he retired 18 of the final 20 hitters he faced, and the Bucs exploded for five runs in the sixth to rally for a 5-2 win on Friday afternoon at the Bill Aker Baseball Complex.
After recording a no-decision in six innings of work on opening day, Doane has rattled off six complete games in his last seven starts to improve to 6-1 on the season. The senior right-hander allowed the two runs on only four hits, while tying a season high with five strikeouts. In total, three of NKU’s four hits off Doane didn’t leave the infield, while the Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. native induced the Norse hitters into 15 groundouts and six fly outs in the 2-hour, 17-minute pitching gem.
Five different ETSU (16-11, 5-5 A-Sun) hitters combined for the six hits on the day as senior infielder Alex Reynolds (Johnson City, Tenn.) drove in the first two Buccaneer runs with a single in the sixth, while senior catcher Mason Hershey (Altoona, Pa.) reached base three times (two singles and a hit by a pitch) and drove in ETSU’s final run with a single to right in the five-run frame.
The Norse used some small-ball to plate their two runs early, but after threatening in the fourth and fifth innings, the Blue and Gold pounced on freshman hurler Aric Harris to put up the crooked number in the sixth. Harris – who earned the win after tossing five solid innings a week ago at USC Upstate – was tagged for three runs on three hits to see his record dip to 1-1 on the year. The freshman righty also walked four and struck out five.
Northern Kentucky (4-25, 1-6 A-Sun) jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second. Josh Myers led off the inning with an infield single to third and moved to second when Zac Asman was hit by a pitch. Both runners moved up a base on Logan Spurlin’s sac-bunt, while Myers scored on a Ryan Hinz RBI groundout to short.
Once again, Northern Kentucky used some small-ball to add to its lead in the third. Caleb Lonkard led off the frame with an infield single through the left side, moved to second on a sac-bunt, and took third on Bradley Vanderglas’ grounder. Then, with two outs and Lonkard on third, Brad Clement came through with the clutch two-out hit as his double to right-center scored the second NKU run of the game, making it a 2-0 score.
The Blue and Gold missed scoring chances in the fourth and fifth but couldn’t scratch any runs across against Harris. In the fourth Dylan Tritsch (Boca Raton, Fla.) led off the inning with a single up the middle and moved to second when Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.) worked a four-pitch walk; however, after both runners trotted to second and third on Andrew Green’s (Powell, Tenn.) groundout to first, Harris struck out Tyler Roach (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Chris Riopedre (Miami, Fla.) swinging to keep the Blue and Gold scoreless. In the fifth, Derek Niesman (Wellington, Fla.) walked and went to second when Hershey was hit by a pitch. But just as he did in the fourth, Harris worked out of trouble by getting Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.) and Tritsch to hit into consecutive fly outs to end the inning.
However, after playing with fire in the fourth and fifth innings, the Bucs finally burned Harris and the NKU pitchers as ETSU struck for five runs on four hits to take its first lead of the game in the sixth, 5-2. Green started the rally with a one-out single, while back-to-back walks to Roach and Riopedre loaded the bases. From there, Harris’ day was done and Cody Cooper jumped ahead of Reynolds, but the Johnson City, Tenn. native sent a 1-2 pitch into right field for a two-run scoring single. With the game knotted at two and NKU making its second pitching change of the inning, Niesman’s fielder’s choice RBI to second plated the go-ahead runs in Riopedre and Reynolds. Reynolds was able to score as second baseman Zac Asman’s throw to first was wide of the bag, moving Niesman into scoring position. Niesman touched the plate for the fifth and final run of the inning when Hershey’s one-out single put the Blue and Gold ahead, 5-2.
The five-run inning was enough offense for Doane to work with as he sent down NKU in order during the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, while retiring 18 of the final 20 Norse hitters he faced to pick up the series-opening win. In the end, Doane allowed just one single and one walk in the final six innings of work.
Clement had the lone extra base-hit in the game as he went 1-for-4 with a double and an RBI, while Hinz drove in the other NKU run.
The second game of the series is set for 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon as freshman right-hander Griffin Krieg (Nashville, Tenn.) gets the start for the Bucs, while the Norse toss left-hander Matt Jefferson.
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