ASHEVILLE, N.C. (March 12, 2014) – The ETSU baseball team waited too long to get its offense in gear as the Bucs scored eight runs in the eighth inning, but it wasn't enough to rally past UNC Asheville as the Bulldogs held on for a 17-11 victory on Wednesday afternoon at Greenwood Field.
With the game tied at two after three innings of play, UNCA’s bats came alive as the Bulldogs scored 14 of their 17 runs in the middle frames, which was highlighted by a two-run home run and a grand slam by catcher Pete Guy – who was making his first-ever start in a Bulldog uniform. Guy went 3 for 5 with the two home runs and seven RBI in UNCA’s six-run victory.
The Bucs were led by Zach Thompson (Johnson City, Tenn.), Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.) and Chris Riopedre (Miami, Fla.) as they drove in seven of ETSU’s 11 runs. Thompson went 2 for 4 with a walk, two runs and two RBI, Freeman went 2 for 5 with a double and two RBI, while Riopedre belted a two-run homer in the eight-run eighth.
As a team, ETSU registered 14 hits for the second straight game, which tied a season high; however, the Buccaneer pitchers have now issued 35 runs on 40 hits in their last two contests. The 21 hits allowed by ETSU was the most since allowing 22 in an 11-4 loss at North Florida last March.
ETSU, who had won 16 of the last 18 games against UNCA, dropped to 7-9 on the campaign, while the Bulldogs improved to 4-11.
The Bulldogs struck first as UNCA plated a pair of runs in the bottom of the second to take an early 2-0 lead. With two outs and a runner on third, Guy took advantage of the wind gusts as his double to center carried to the wall to bring home Hunter Bryant, while Guy later scored on a fielding error by Zach Mize (Gainesville, Ga.) to make it a two-run advantage.
UNCA’s lead didn’t last long as ETSU quickly tied it at two in the top of the third, courtesy of RBIs by Freeman and Riopedre. Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.) reached on a one-out single to center and moved to third on a pair of wild pitches. From there, Taylor scored on Freeman’s RBI double to right, while Thompson – who reached via a five-pitch walk – came in on a sacrifice fly RBI by Riopedre to even the score up.
Unfortunately, momentum rapidly shifted back to UNCA’s side as the Bulldogs outscored ETSU, 14-1, during the fourth through sixth innings.
After Jimmy Nesselt (Plantation, Fla.) held the Bulldogs scoreless in the third, UNCA recorded three runs on five hits off sophomore southpaw Josh Jacques (Rollinsford, N.H.) in the fourth to regain a 5-2 lead. All three runs scored with two outs as the Bulldogs plated their first run on a wild pitch, while Joe Tietjen registered an RBI double and scored on a bloop single from Kyle Carruthers.
The Bulldogs added to their lead an inning later as UNCA pushed across five more in the fifth to make it a 10-2 ballgame. UNCA picked up a two-RBI double by Phillip Treadway and Guy drove in his teammate by posting his first home run of the season. The Bulldogs capped off their scoring when Tanner Bush tripled to center and scored on a wild pitch.
ETSU pushed across a run in the sixth when Dylan Tritsch’s (Boca Raton, Fla.) one-out single scored Trey York (Knoxville, Tenn.) from second, but with one out and the bases loaded the Blue and Gold were unable to make any further damage. UNCA right-hander Brian Connolly got out of the jam by forcing Matt Sorrow (Griffin, Ga.) to hit into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
Things continued to go south for the Bucs in the sixth as the Bulldogs scored six runs, highlighted by Guy’s grand slam to make it a 16-3 score.
However, after UNCA plated a run in the seventh, ETSU fought back in the eighth as the Bucs scored their eight runs on six hits and cut a 14-run deficit to six. Mize drove in the first run of the inning with an RBI single center, while Gage Downey (Franklin, Tenn.) saw seven pitches before driving in Brandon Moss (Atlanta, Ga.) with a single up the middle. From there, Mize and Downey scored on Thompson’s single, while Taylor – who walked earlier in the inning scored on a wild pitch – to cut the deficit in half, 16-8. After Thompson moved up to third on the wild pitch, Freeman drove him in on an RBI single and Riopedre finished off the inning with a two-run blast to left – marking the second straight year the Buccaneer shortstop homered at UNCA.
Despite putting up the eight-run inning, ETSU was unable to carry it over in the ninth as the Bucs went down in order and suffered the six-run setback.
Jacques took the loss (1-2) for the Blue and Gold as he was charged for three runs on five hits in the fourth inning. Connolly earned the win (1-0) for the Bulldogs as he allowed one run on six hits in three innings of action. Nesselt and Freeman were the lone ETSU pitchers to record scoreless innings on the mound.
Hunter Bryant led all players with a four-hit game, while Kyle Towles and Phillip Treadway joined Guy with three hits each.
The Bucs return home for a three-game series with 2013 NCAA participant and Northeast Conference favorite Bryant beginning Friday night at 7:05 p.m. at Thomas Stadium.
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