DELAND, Fla. (April 20, 2013) – With the game tied at three, Stetson scored four runs in the eighth inning and evened up the series with a 7-3 victory over ETSU on Saturday afternoon at Melching Field.
Despite jumping out to a two-run lead, the Bucs couldn’t protect the advantage as the Hatters answered with a run in the fourth and took their first lead of the weekend (3-2) with a two-run fifth. The Blue and Gold managed to pull even at three on Derek Niesman’s (Wellington, Fla.) RBI bunt single in the seventh, but with one out and the bases loaded in the eighth, Kevin Fagan drove in the game-winning runs with a two-RBI single to left. Fagan’s single was headed right towards Chris Riopedre (Miami, Fla.), but the ball took a wicked bounce and went over the Buccaneer shortstop’s head for the eventual game-winning hit. For good measure, Stetson plated two additional insurance runs on Patrick Mazeika’s two-run scoring double later in the inning to extend its lead to four.
Junior right-hander Will Chesney (Knoxville, Tenn.) – who entered the game without allowing a run in 10 consecutive innings out the bullpen – suffered the loss (2-2) after allowing the four eighth-inning runs on four hits. Stetson reliever Cameron Griffin picked up the win (2-3) as he tossed a perfect inning in the eighth.
Senior Alex Reynolds (Johnson City, Tenn.) finished with two hits in four at-bats, while Tyler Roach (Knoxville, Tenn.) doubled, walked, and scored the first and final ETSU run of the game. Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.) drove in the other run when his RBI groundout in the third plated Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.).
Following the setback, ETSU saw its seven-game Atlantic Sun winning streak come to an end, as the Bucs moved their mark to 22-14, 11-6 on the season. The Hatters snapped a two-game skid and improved to 18-22, 7-7.
Just like they did in the series opener, the Blue and Gold plated the first run of the game on Saturday as Roach led off the second inning with a double and advanced to third on the first of two sacrifice bunts by Chris Riopedre (Miami, Fla.). Then, with one out and Roach on third, the Buccaneer designated hitter charged home on Austin Perez’s third wild pitch of the season, giving ETSU the 1-0 advantage.
ETSU added to its lead an inning later when Taylor led off the inning with a bunt single, while moved to third as he stole second and took advantage of a throwing error by Garrett Russini on the play. Freeman drove in the freshman outfielder with an RBI grounder to second, making it a 2-0 score in favor of the Bucs.
Unfortunately, Stetson would score the next three runs of the contest to jump ahead, 3-2, following five innings of play.
The Hatters scratched across their first run in the fourth on Carlos Garmendia’s two-out RBI single to right, but ETSU starter Logan Rice (Erwin, Tenn.) kept ETSU’s 2-1 lead intact by working out of a bases loaded jam by forcing Robert Bruce into an inning-ending groundout to third.
Unfortunately, Rice couldn’t work out of another messy situation in the fifth as Stetson took its first lead of the series by pushing across two runs to go up, 3-2. The Hatters took full use of a one-out fielding error by Reynolds at third to put runners on first and second. Following the miscue, Russini’s RBI single to right tied the game at two, while Mazeika – who reached on the fielding error – scored the go-ahead run on Rice’s second wild pitch of the afternoon.
However, the Blue and Gold bounced back in the seventh to pull even at three. Roach led off the inning with a seven-pitch walk and moved to second on Riopedre’s 10th sac-bunt of the season. Following a hard hit single by Reynolds, Niesman tied the game at three when his second bunt hit of the campaign scored Roach. The Bucs missed out on regaining the lead as Joe Dye forced Mason Hershey (Altoona, Pa.) to hit into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
After ETSU left the go-ahead run stranded at second in the top of the eighth, the Hatters made the Bucs pay by scoring the four runs off Chesney to take the four-run advantage en route to evening up the series.
Fagan, Mazeika, and Russini all posted two-hit days for the Hatters as Stetson outhit the Blue and Gold, 11-7.
Rice – who is still 3-0 in his starts this season – picked up a no-decision as the junior right-hander issued three runs (one earned) on six hits and walked four. Meanwhile, Perez’s perfect record in conference play remains as he also earned a no-decision. Perez allowed the three runs (two earned) on five hits in 6.1 innings of work.
The rubber match of the series is set for 1 p.m., Sunday afternoon at Melching Field.
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