JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (March 28, 2014) – The ETSU baseball team scored five runs in the first three innings and freshman right-hander Austin Hutchison (Jefferson County, Tenn.) recorded his third quality start of the year as the Bucs opened the series with a 6-3 win over Northern Kentucky on Friday night at Thomas Stadium.
Senior Dylan Tritsch’s (Boca Raton, Fla.) two-out solo home run in the third proved to be the game-winning hit, while freshman Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.) capped off the scoring by belting his first collegiate homer in the eighth.
On the mound, Hutchison led the Blue and Gold to their second straight Friday night win as he allowed three runs on six hits in seven innings of work, improving his record to 3-1. Senior southpaw Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.) posted his third straight two-inning save as he retired the final six NKU hitters to earn his fifth save of the year.
Freshman Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.) registered his first three-hit game of his young career as he went 3 for 4 with a double, triple, walk and run scored, while senior Matt Sorrow (Griffin, Ga.) drove in two of the six Buccaneer runs. Cook and Tritsch both extended streaks in the win as the Buccaneer duo have now reached base safely in 11 straight games, while Tyler Roach (Knoxville, Tenn.) – who went 1 for 3 with a walk, run scored, and an RBI – has now reached base safely in seven straight contests.
As a team, ETSU pounded out 10 hits (five coming with two outs) and went 4 for 10 with runners in scoring position. The Bucs held NKU to one two-out hit and the Norse were 0 for 3 with runners in scoring position.
With the win, ETSU moved to .500 on the year as the Blue and Gold sit, 12-12, 3-1 in A-Sun play, while the Norse dropped to 6-17, 1-3.
The Bucs got off to a hot start and held the early momentum throughout the game as ETSU scored one run in the first and tacked on two more in the second and third innings to grab a 5-2 lead.
For the sixth time this season, ETSU plated a run in the first inning and the Blue and Gold took an early 1-0 lead when Cook tripled to right and scored on Freeman’s RBI single.
The lead didn’t last long as Hutchison threw 36 pitches in the second inning and the Norse jumped ahead, 2-1. With one out and the bases loaded, Hutchison threw his third wild pitch of the season, which allowed Cody Kuzniczci to score on the play. From there, Northern Kentucky went ahead when Cole Bauml scored on David Head’s sacrifice fly to left.
However, the freshman right-hander regrouped after the shaky start, and the ETSU offense rewarded him with two runs in the second and third innings to take control of the contest.
Kevin Phillips (St. Louis, Mo.) led off the bottom of the second inning with a walk and moved to second when Tritsch was hit by a pitch. With two on and no outs, Roach hit a laser up the middle for an RBI single, while Tritsch and Roach moved into scoring position when Trey York (Knoxville, Tenn.) laid down a sac-bunt. The Blue and Gold regained the lead when Sorrow hit a chopper to third and Tritsch beat the throw home, giving ETSU a one-run advantage; however, the Bucs were unable to do further damage as Freeman hit into an inning-ending pop out to leave the bases loaded.
The Blue and Gold got clutch two-out hitting an inning later, and ETSU extended its lead to, 5-2. Tritsch belted a two-out solo homer to left-center and Sorrow followed that up with an RBI single to left, which gave Hutchison enough offense to work with.
After giving up the two runs in the second, Hutchison settled in and held the Norse scoreless until Zac Asman’s two-out RBI double in the seventh scored Caleb Kellogg from first, making it a 5-3 score.
The Bucs got the run back when Taylor blasted his first collegiate home run on a 3-2 pitch in the eighth and Freeman retired the final six hitters to secure his 15th career save, which ranks third in program history.
NKU starter Cody Cooper went the distance but picked up his sixth straight losing decision to start the year. The junior left-hander allowed six runs on 10 hits, walked five and struck out two in eight innings of work.
Asman, Kuzniczci, Kellogg, Bauml, Logan Spurlin and Jordan Procyshen accounted for the six NKU hits on the night, while Asman and Head drove in two of the three runs.
Game two of the series is slated for 2:05 p.m. on Saturday. The Bucs send junior right-hander Jimmy Nesselt (Plantation, Fla.) to the hill, while the Norse counter with right-hander Wendell Wright.
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