CHICAGO (May 5, 2013) – Junior Logan Rice (Erwin, Tenn.) tossed his first collegiate complete game, but the ETSU offense couldn’t deliver as Illinois-Chicago took the final game of the series, 3-2, on Sunday afternoon at Les Miller Field.
Rice was outdueled by UIC red-shirt junior right-hander Mike McKinley as the Flame hurler improved to 3-2 after holding the Blue and Gold to the two runs on four hits in 8.1 innings. Rice – who had won four straight decisions – took the loss (5-2) despite allowing three runs on seven hits in a career-high eight innings of action.
Senior Andrew Green (Powell, Tenn.) extended his hit streak to 12 straight games after registering a double in the fourth and later scored on a throwing error, while pinch runner Daniel Tucker (Hendersonville, Tenn.) scored the second run on a sacrifice fly by Chris Riopedre (Miami, Fla.) in the ninth inning. However, with runners on first and second and two outs in the ninth, reliever Joey Begel struck out Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.) swinging to earn his first save of the season.
Despite winning its eighth series of the season by sweeping Saturday’s doubleheader, ETSU dropped to 27-20 on the year, while UIC improved to 21-24.
The Bucs were no-hit for the first three-plus innings, but with one out in the fourth Green ripped his 14th double of the season and later scored on a two-out throwing error by second baseman Ryan Shober to give ETSU a 1-0 advantage. With Green on third, Kevin Phillips (St. Louis, Mo.) hit a routine grounder to second, but Shober’s throw was wide of the bag at first, which gave the Buccaneer senior outfielder the opportunity to score the unearned run.
However, after leaving runners in scoring position in each of the first three innings, the Flames struck for a pair two-out runs to take a 2-1 lead in the fourth. Joe Betcher started the two-out rally by recording a single and came around to score after Taylor had trouble fielding a double by Alex Jurich in right. Jurich scored on the next play when Alex Grunenwald doubled to the gap in left-center to put UIC ahead, 2-1.
ETSU threatened in the top of the fifth as Mason Hershey (Altoona, Pa.) and Taylor reached on two out errors, while Dylan Tritsch (Boca Raton, Fla.) loaded the bases by pushing a single through the left side, but McKinley worked out of the jam by forcing Green into an inning-ending fly out to left to keep UIC’s one-run lead intact.
After Rice retired the Flames in order in the fifth and sixth innings, UIC got a leadoff triple by Jurich in the seventh and he scored on Grunenwald’s sacrifice fly RBI to make it a 3-1 UIC lead.
McKinley also kept the Buccaneer offense in check after the fifth as he retired nine of the 10 hitters he faced before Andrew Lasure (Stanford, Ky.) and Derek Niesman (Wellington, Fla.) led off the ninth inning with consecutive singles. From there, Tucker entered to run for Lasure and both runners moved up a base on a sac-bunt by Alex Reynolds (Johnson City, Tenn.), while Riopedre’s sac-fly made it a 3-2 game. Unfortunately, the Blue and Gold were unable to tie it up as reliever Begel struck out Taylor swinging to end the game.
The Flames recorded seven hits in the outing as UIC’s six-through-eight hitters went 6-for-8 with three runs scored and two RBI.
The Bucs return home for a midweek game with UNC Asheville on Wednesday night at Thomas Stadium. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.
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