AUBURN, Ala. (Feb. 23, 2014) – Senior Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.) tied the game with an RBI single in the top of the ninth and sophomore Trey York (Knoxville, Tenn.) provided the Bucs with the game-winning RBI an inning later, as the ETSU baseball team rallied past Auburn, 3-2, in front of 3,091 fans inside Plainsman Park on Sunday afternoon.
Along with the heroics by Freeman and York, the Buccaneer pitching staff was dominate once again. Junior Jimmy Nesselt (Plantation, Fla.) got the start and allowed two runs on eight hits in seven innings of work, while seniors Jared Burton (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Will Chesney (Knoxville, Tenn.) held Auburn hitless in the final three innings out of the bullpen. Chesney earned the win (1-0) as he tossed the final 2.1 innings and struck out three. The right-hander has now tossed 8.1 scoreless innings to start the season, while the ETSU bullpen hasn’t allowed a run in its last 13.2 innings of work.
Freeman had two of the six hits for the Blue and Gold, while his single up the middle in the ninth scored Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.) – who reached on a fielding error by Auburn’s shortstop to lead off the inning. Freshman Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.) set up York’s sacrifice fly opportunity by recording his first collegiate triple with one out in the 10th, and Chris Riopedre (Miami, Fla.) put the Bucs on the board when his sac-fly in the seventh scored Freeman.
The Bucs – who have now defeated at least one BCS team in each of the last seven seasons – improved to 4-3 after winning two of their three games at this weekend’s Tiger Classic. Auburn went 1-2 in its home tournament and dipped to 3-4 on the campaign.
Both Nesselt and Auburn starter Keegan Thompson – who is rated the No. 14 overall prospect for the 2016 MLB Draft by Perfect Game – kept both offenses scoreless through three innings of play, but the Tigers struck first as they plated a pair of runs in the fourth to capture a 2-0 lead. Damon Haecker led off the fourth with an infield single, but after he moved to second on Daniel Robert’s groundout, the Tiger second baseman was gunned down at the plate by Freeman as he tried to score on Blake Austin’s single to left. Despite picking up a momentum boost with the out at the plate, the Bucs couldn’t register a scoreless frame for the fourth straight inning as Nesselt surrendered a two-out, two-run scoring double to Blake Logan, which gave the Tigers the two-run cushion.
However, those two runs would be the only allowed by the Buccaneer pitchers and ETSU’s timely hitting came alive in the later innings.
In the seventh, ETSU cut its deficit in half as Freeman led the inning off with a single and later scored on Riopedre’s sacrifice fly, making it a 2-1 ballgame.
After Auburn left insurance runs stranded in scoring position in the seventh and eighth innings, the Bucs began their rally as Taylor reached on an error by shortstop Dan Glevenyak to begin the ninth. From there, Dylan Tritsch (Boca Raton, Fla.) laid down a perfect sac-bunt, leading to Freeman’s one-out RBI single up the middle to even things up at two.
In the bottom of the ninth, Chesney struck out two of the four Tiger hitters he faced – and after Riopedre grounded out to short to start the 10th – Cook delivered the biggest hit of his young Buccaneer career as he tripled to left. With the go-ahead run 90-feet away, York did his job by sending a 0-1 pitch to right field and Cook sprinted home for the eventual game-winning run.
The Tigers were sent down in order in the bottom half of the inning, resulting in ETSU’s ninth straight extra-inning win – a streak that dates back to last season.
Thompson picked up a no-decision as he allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits in 8.1 innings of action, while Terrance Dedrick was handed the loss (0-1). Austin and Logan both finished with two hits each as the combined for half of Auburn’s hits on the day.
The Bucs return home for an eight-game homestand beginning Wednesday afternoon when ETSU hosts UNC Asheville at 3:05 p.m. at Thomas Stadium.
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