JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (April 14, 2013) – After getting swept by Lipscomb last year in Nashville, the ETSU baseball team wanted to return the favor this weekend against the Bisons.
The Blue and Gold did just that as freshman Josh Jacques (Rollinsford, N.H.) and junior Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.) combined to give up a pair of runs on 10 hits, while sophomore Jordan Sanford’s (Powell, Tenn.) first collegiate home run in the sixth proved to be the eventual game-winning run, as ETSU completed the three-game sweep over Lipscomb with a 5-2 victory on Sunday afternoon at Thomas Stadium.
Jacques (1-2) earned his first collegiate win after allowing one run on two hits and tied a career-high with three strikeouts in five innings of work, while Freeman converted on his fifth save opportunity by tossing the last four innings out of the bullpen. Freeman issued one run on eight hits and fanned three. Sanford also set a new career mark as his three-hit day was the first in an ETSU uniform, while freshman Trey York (Knoxville, Tenn.) went 2-for-2 with two runs scored and two walks in the winning effort.
Dylan Tritsch (Boca Raton, Fla.), Mason Hershey (Altoona, Pa.) and Andrew Green (Powell, Tenn.) all extended hitting streaks on Sunday. Tritsch has now hit safely in nine straight games after going 1-for-3 with an RBI single in the fifth, and Hershey – who is hitting .500 (11-22) with four doubles, five runs scored and six RBI in his last six conference games – extended his streak to eight straight following an RBI double in the seventh. Green has also excelled against Atlantic Sun foes lately, as he has hit safely in nine straight games against conference competition.
As a team, ETSU is hitting .324 (72-222) and has outscored its opponents 50-19 during this six-game A-Sun winning streak.
ETSU – who has now won six straight A-Sun games – picked up its second consecutive conference sweep, marking the first time the Bucs have swept back-to-back weekend series since 2009 when the Blue and Gold defeated USC Upstate (4/17-18) and High Point (4/24-26). Furthermore, the last time the Bucs swept consecutive series versus conference foes was back in April of 2004 when ETSU took three at Wofford (4/9-11) and three against Appalachian State (4/17-18).
Following the sweep, ETSU pushed its record to 21-12, 10-5 in A-Sun play, putting the Bucs into a tie for second place with Mercer as both teams trail league-leading North Florida, who sits at 9-3 in conference play. Meanwhile, Lipscomb lost its fourth straight conference series and moved its mark to 12-25, 3-9.
For the first time in the series Lipscomb jumped out to a lead when Tyson Ashcraft’s solo home run to left-center in the top of the second gave the Bisons a 1-0 advantage.
However, for the sixth time this season, ETSU came back to win after allowing the opponent to score first, as the Bucs scored a run in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings, while capping off the afternoon with a two-run seventh to finish off the sweep.
After not being able to get on the board in the first three innings, ETSU took advantage of an extra out in the fourth to pull even at one. With two outs and nobody on base, Green hit a slow roller to second, but Joey Cecere’s throw went wide of the bag at first and Green moved into second on the two-base error. Then, Andrew Lasure (Stanford, Ky.) made the Bisons pay for the errant throw, when his single to center scored Green to make it a 1-1 score.
In the fifth, the Bucs took their first lead of the game when York led off the inning with a single and scored from second on Tritsch’s two-out RBI single up the middle, making it a 2-1 contest.
From there, Jacques’ day was done after tossing five solid innings and Freeman worked out of a one-out bases loaded jam in his first inning of work out of the pen. The left-handed hurler got out of the situation by striking out Ashcraft swinging and getting Chad Shannon to ground into an inning-ending fielder’s choice to short, keeping ETSU’s one-run lead intact.
Once again, the two-out hitting continued for the Bucs in the sixth, when Sanford’s first collegiate home run cleared the wall in left, while the scoring spree carried over to the seventh as the Blue and Gold plated two more runs to make it a 5-1 ballgame. Hershey drove in the first run in the seventh with a RBI double to left-center and Freeman helped his cause when his sac-fly RBI to left scored Hershey, giving ETSU a four-run cushion.
Sanford’s solo home run in the sixth proved to be critical as Lipscomb plated a run on Shannon’s two-RBI single to right, but after giving up his first run as a reliever this season, Freeman bounced back by leaving the Bison runner stranded by striking out Zach Lowery looking for his third punch out of the afternoon. Overall, Freeman pitched 17.0 consecutive scoreless innings out of the bullpen prior to the RBI single in the eighth.
The eighth-inning run was the last time the Bisons scored, and despite issuing a pair of singles in the ninth, Freeman forced the final two Lipscomb hitters into fly outs to center to finish off the rare four-inning save.
Will Blalock took the loss (0-4) for Lipscomb as he was charged with five runs (four earned) on eight hits in six innings of work, while Lee Wilson, Drew Adams, and Gray Hutchinson combined for six of the Bisons’ 10 hits. All three players finished with two hits each.
The Bucs will now play 14 games in the next 19 days starting Wednesday afternoon when ETSU takes on The Citadel in Charleston, S.C. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.
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