HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. (April 7, 2013) – The ETSU baseball team was forced to play from behind in the first two games of the series, but the Buccaneer bats woke up early and often on get-away day.
Freshman Kevin Phillips (St. Louis, Mo.) went 2-for-4 with a two-run home run and five RBI and junior Logan Rice (Erwin, Tenn.) allowed one unearned run in a career-high six innings of work as the Blue and Gold completed the sweep by cruising past Northern Kentucky, 13-4, on Sunday afternoon at the Bill Aker Baseball Complex.
Phillips put the Bucs up 2-0 in the top of the second when his first collegiate homer cleared the 12-foot high fence in left, while his second double of the year cleared the bases to fuel a six-run fourth. Meanwhile, fresh off his first career start in the win over Tennessee Tech on Tuesday, Rice followed that up with his second straight win to improve to 3-1 on the season. Rice – who hasn’t allowed an earned run in 12.0 straight innings – scattered four hits and struck out two NKU hitters.
Overall, the Blue and Gold registered 15 of their 37 hits in the series on Sunday, while ETSU outscored the Norse 30-15 in the three games. Senior catcher Mason Hershey (Altoona, Pa.) was productive in the series as he hit .545 (6-11) with three doubles and reached base eight times. Hershey finished with a pair of doubles, while driving in and scoring one run on Sunday. Fellow senior Andrew Green (Powell, Tenn.) continued swinging a hot bat as he reached base in all four plate appearances (two walks and two singles), along with scoring three runs and posting two RBI on Sunday. Derek Niesman (Wellington, Fla.) tied a career high with a three-hit game and scored two runs, while Dylan Tritsch (Boca Raton, Fla.) completed a strong weekend by going 2-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBI. For the series, Tritsch hit .438 (7-16) with one double and four runs scored.
The win marked the fourth straight for the Blue and Gold as ETSU improved to 18-11, 7-5 in A-Sun play, while the Norse moved to 4-27, 1-8 following the setback. It also marked the second series sweep of the season for the Bucs and the first conference sweep since taking three from Campbell back on May 13-14, 2011.
ETSU – who didn’t plate its first runs until the sixth inning on Friday and Saturday – carried all the momentum over from yesterday’s comeback win into the series finale. Phillips put the Bucs on the board with his two-run blast in the second and he drove in three of the six fourth-inning runs with a bases loaded clearing double. Tritsch brought in the first two runs in the fourth when his single to left scored Niesman and Hershey, while Clinton Freeman’s (Jonesborough, Tenn.) RBI single to right scored freshman Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.) from third. Following an intentional walk to Green, NKU starter Blake Bagshaw was pulled and Phillips greeted Tim Clark with the double, which put the Blue and Gold ahead, 8-0.
The eight-run cushion was plenty of room for Rice and the Buccaneer pitchers to work with as NKU scored its first run on a sac-fly in the bottom of the fourth and plated three in the bottom of the ninth.
The Bucs added to their lead with a three-run sixth and pushed across one run each in the seventh and eighth innings.
Green provided ETSU with a two-run scoring single in the sixth and he later scored when Chris Riopedre (Miami, Fla.) reached on a fielding error by Bradley Vanderglas at short. In the seventh, Niesman recorded one of his three hits with a one-out single and charged home on Hershey’s second double of the afternoon. Riopedre then capped off the Buccaneer scoring when his RBI groundout scored Zach Thompson (Johnson City, Tenn.), giving the Blue and Gold a 13-1 lead.
Northern Kentucky put up three runs in the ninth, but the 12-run deficit was too big to dig out of as junior right-hander Will Chesney (Knoxville, Tenn.) recorded the last three outs to lock up the sweep.
Junior left-hander Jared Burton (Knoxville, Tenn.) was effective out of the bullpen as he tossed two scoreless innings; however, freshman lefty Sam Eichler (Mission Viejo, Calif.) was charged with surrendering the three runs in the ninth.
Bagshaw suffered his sixth loss of the campaign as he issued eight runs on seven hits in 3.2 innings of work, while Vanderglas and Josh Myers accounted for four of NKU’s nine hits. Vanderglas and Myers each finished with two hits and Cody Kuzniczci drove in two of the four runs.
The Bucs carry their four-game winning streak into Tuesday’s home game with Tennessee. Game time is set for 7:05 p.m., from Thomas Stadium. Fans are encouraged to purchase their tickets in advance by visiting ETSUBucs.com or by calling (423) 439-3878.
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.