JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (March 29, 2014) – Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.) put on a show for the Buccaneer faithful on Saturday at Thomas Stadium.
The senior slugger belted a pair of two-run home runs, including the game-winning blast in the eighth inning, as ETSU rallied for a series-clinching 6-3 win over Northern Kentucky.
Freeman gave the Blue and Gold an early 2-0 lead with a two-run shot in the first, and after being held scoreless for the next six-plus innings, the preseason Louisville Slugger First Team All-American ignited a four-run eighth inning when he belted another two-run bomb to rally ETSU past the Norse. The Jonesborough, Tenn. native, who has now hit two homers in a game for the third time in his career, has feasted on NKU pitching this weekend. After going a perfect 3 for 3 with a walk, two homers and four RBI on Saturday, Freeman is now hitting .667 (4-6) on the weekend.
Following the round tripper in the eighth, Freeman quickly went into the Buccaneer bullpen and closed out the game in the ninth for his sixth save of the season. Junior right-hander Jimmy Nesselt (Plantation, Fla.) picked up a no-decision after giving ETSU his fifth quality start of the campaign. Nesselt allowed three runs on six hits in seven innings of work, while senior righty Will Chesney (Knoxville, Tenn.) earned the win (2-1) after tossing a perfect inning in the eighth.
Joining Freeman with a productive day at the plate was freshman Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.) as he went 1 for 3 with one walk and scored on both of Freeman’s blasts. Cook has now reached base safely in 12 straight games, while senior Dylan Tritsch (Boca Raton, Fla.) has also accomplished the same feat after reaching on a single in the eighth inning. Senior Tyler Roach (Knoxville, Tenn.) extended a streak of his own on Saturday as he has now reached safely in eight consecutive contests after going 2 for 4 with a run scored.
Following the comeback win, ETSU has won consecutive conference series and improved to 13-12, 4-1 in A-Sun play, while the Norse dipped to 6-18, 1-4.
Just like they did in the opener, ETSU exploded out of the gates in a hurry as Cook reached on a one-out infield single and trotted home when Freeman connected on his 21st career home run to put the Blue and Gold ahead, 2-0, after one inning of play.
From there, the Buccaneer offense was held in check and the Norse jumped ahead, 3-2, courtesy of an RBI single by Kyle Colletta in the third and a two-run home run by Jordan Procyshen in the sixth.
With the rain coming down and NKU starter Wendell Wright hanging goose eggs for six straight innings, the Bucs needed a spark to overcome a one-run deficit.
Fortunately, the Blue and Gold came alive in the eighth as fatigue started to set in for Wright as the junior right-hander walked Cook on five pitches to start the inning, and Freeman took the first pitch he saw from the NKU pitcher over the wall in right-center, putting ETSU ahead for good, 4-3. For insurance purposes, the Bucs tacked on two more runs in the frame as Zach Thompson (Johnson City, Tenn.) was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, which scored Tritsch, and Sorrow’s RBI groundout to second gave ETSU the three-run cushion.
Freeman surrendered a leadoff single to Caleb Kellogg in the ninth, but the southpaw retired the next three hitters he faced to secure the victory for the Blue and Gold.
Wright suffered the loss (1-2) as he was charged with six runs on nine hits in 7.1 innings of work. The junior righty also walked five and struck out one.
Offensively, the Norse were led by Procyshen and Josh Myers. Myers had two of NKU’s seven hits and Procyshen hit his fifth homer of the year.
The Bucs look to sweep the Norse for a second straight season as the finale is set for Sunday at 1:05 p.m. A pair of freshman left-handers square off on the mound as Jamin McCann (Kingsport, Tenn.) gets the ball for ETSU, while NKU goes with Adam Jafine.
ETSU fans wanting to receive Buccaneer news, score updates, in-game promotions and much more sent to their mobile device can do so by signing up for “Buc Updates.” Click here to sign up today!
For more information on Buccaneer baseball, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the baseball page.