JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 28, 2014) – Canisius scored six runs in the first three innings and the Golden Griffins snapped ETSU’s three-game win streak as the Bucs were dealt a 9-2 setback in the series opener on Friday afternoon at Thomas Stadium.
Canisius, the reigning Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champions, got seven strong innings from left-handed starter Alex Godzak, while Jesse Puscheck and Jimmy Luppens went 5-for-10 with three runs scored and four RBI. Godzak earned the win (1-1) as he held the Buccaneer offense to one run on five hits and struck out three.
ETSU senior left-hander Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.) suffered his third straight losing decision (0-3) after allowing six runs on seven hits in three innings of work. At the plate, freshman infielder Zach Mize (Gainesville, Ga.) recorded his first collegiate home run in his Thomas Stadium debut, while Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.) drove in the other Buccaneer run with a double in the ninth. Freeman also saw his streak of reaching base safely in all eight games come to a halt as the preseason All-American went 0 for 5 at the plate.
The Bucs, who had won three straight, dropped to 5-4, while Canisius improved to 4-3.
The Golden Griffins attacked early as Canisius plated a pair of runs on three hits in the top of the first to take a 2-0 lead. After Freeman got Canisius’ leadoff hitter to fly out, the Griffs found holes in the left and right side of the Buccaneer in field for consecutive singles. With one out and runners on first and second, Luppens – the MAAC Preseason Player of the Year – doubled down the line in left to bring in the first run, while Connor Panas’ sacrifice fly plated the second run, giving Godzak a two-run cushion to work with.
Canisius added another run in the second when Mike Krische laced a one-out triple to the gap in right-center and came home on an RBI groundout by Ronnie Bernick, making it a 3-0 score.
The scoring continued for the Griffs in the third when Luppens connected on a two-run homer to right-center – but after Freeman loaded the bases with one out – the Buccaneer southpaw got out of the inning by allowing only one more run to come home on a sac-fly RBI by Krische to make it a 6-0 contest.
That was more than enough offense for Godzak to work with as the left-hander held ETSU scoreless until Mize’s solo shot in the seventh made it a 9-1 ballgame. Mize later scored the second run for the Blue and Gold on Taylor’s one-out double in the ninth, but the early deficit was too much for the Bucs to overcome in game one of the series.
The Bucs and Griffs return to action Saturday afternoon at 1:05 p.m., as junior right-hander Jimmy Nesselt (Plantation, Fla.) faces right-hander Rohn Pierce.
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