JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (March 9, 2014) – Hartford plated five runs in the fifth and eight more in the seventh as the Hawks rallied for an 18-6 series-clinching win over ETSU on Sunday afternoon at Thomas Stadium.
The Hawks took advantage of four errors by the Buccaneers, including a key fielding miscue that opened the flood gates in the fifth, while Hartford belted four home runs on the day moving their season total to five – all coming this weekend.
Billy Walker posted the first round tripper with a two-run blast in the first, while Adam Touhey and Ryan Lukach went yard in the eight-run seventh. Touhey, who went 3 for 6 with five RBI on Sunday, blasted a three-run homer and Lukach connected on a grand slam to put Hartford ahead by ten. James Alfonso capped the homer parade off with a three-run dinger in the ninth.
ETSU senior catcher Matt Sorrow (Griffin, Ga.) fueled a four-run second inning with a bases clearing double, while Jordan Sanford (Powell, Tenn.) recorded a leadoff homer in the sixth, but the Blue and Gold couldn’t overcome poor fielding and pitching.
After dropping their second straight series, the Bucs, who lost five of eight on the homestand, moved to 7-8 on the season. Hartford improved to 3-6.
The Hawks took advantage of an extra out in the top of the first inning as a throwing error by third baseman Zach Mize (Gainesville, Ga.) prolonged the frame and led to Walker’s two-out, two-run home run to left, giving Hartford the early 2-0 lead.
Hartford’s lead didn’t last long as the Bucs pushed across four runs on four hits in the second to go ahead, 4-2. The first five ETSU hitters reached base as Chris Riopedre (Miami, Fla.), Trey York (Knoxville), and Mize registered singles, and Sorrow drove them all in as he split the gap in right-center for his first hit of the season. From there, Sanford was hit by a pitch – and after Brandon Moss (Atlanta, Ga.) laid down a sac-bunt – Sorrow scored on a fielder’s choice RBI by Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.), making it a two-run lead for the Blue and Gold.
Rice settled down after the two-run first inning as he kept the Hawks scoreless over the next three frames, but more fielding issues haunted the Blue and Gold in the fifth when Hartford scored five runs (four unearned) to take a 7-4 lead. With two outs and runners on the corners, Jared Burton (Knoxville, Tenn.) came out of the pen to replace Rice, and Lukach beat out a bunt hit to score the first run of the inning. From there, the Bucs would’ve been out of the frame, but Mize booted a chopper at third, which loaded the bases with two outs. Burton walked in the tying run and Touhey’s two-RBI single put the Hawks up for good at, 6-4. Trey Stover plated an insurance run on a ground-rule double to left, and Kameron Miller (Crestview, Fla.) got ETSU out of the inning by forcing Brian Estevez into a groundout to third.
Sanford led off the bottom of the sixth with his first homer of the campaign, but the Bucs were unable to gain any momentum from the blast as ETSU left two runners stranded when Riopedre struck out swinging to end the inning.
Touhey haunted the Blue and Gold again in the seventh when he recorded his three-run home run and Lukach put the finishing touches on the inning with a grand slam, making it a 15-5 ballgame.
The Bucs got an RBI single by Riopedre in the eighth and Alfonso went deep with his three-run homer in the ninth to make it a 12-run advantage.
Six different ETSU hitters finished with two-hit games as the Bucs tied a season high with 14 hits. However, the 18 runs allowed by the Blue and Gold were the most since surrendering 21 to Arizona back on April 29, 2012, while the four errors were the most since ETSU’s opening day loss to Penn State last season. Mize had three of the four miscues on Sunday.
Burton took the loss (0-1) for the Blue and Gold as he allowed three unearned runs on three hits and didn’t record an out. Rice issued four runs (one earned) on five hits and struck out three in 4.2 innings. Sophomore right-hander Sam McKay earned the win (2-0) for the Hawks. McKay was charged with one run on two hits in two innings of relief.
The Bucs hit the road for just the second time this season as ETSU takes on UNC Asheville Wednesday at 3:00 p.m. at Greenwood Baseball Field.
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