KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (April 1, 2014) – Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.) continued his dominance Tuesday night in Knoxville.
After earning a pair of National Player of the Week awards, Freeman followed things up with a game-winning two-run home run in the fourth inning and earned a six-out save, as the ETSU baseball team defeated No. 25 Tennessee, 2-1, in front of 2,425 fans at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Despite being out-hit, 6-3, the Blue and Gold got the massive bomb by Freeman as he has homered in three straight games for the second time in his career. The Jonesborough, Tenn. native has belted five home runs in his last three contests and earned his 17th career save (seventh this season), moving him two shy of tying the all-time program record.
Sophomore right-hander Griffin Krieg (Nashville, Tenn.) made his first start since February 22 and tossed three scoreless innings, while senior Jared Burton (Knoxville, Tenn.) earned the win (1-1) after allowing the run on two hits in two innings out of the pen. Fellow senior Will Chesney (Knoxville, Tenn.) tossed two scoreless innings of two-hit ball before turning things over to Freeman – who has not allowed a run in his last nine innings out of the bullpen.
With the win, ETSU has now won six of the last nine meetings over Tennessee and improved to 14-13 on the campaign, while the Vols suffered just their third home loss of the year and dipped to 19-8. It also marked the fourth time this season ETSU won when being out-hit by the opposition.
Tennessee had plenty of scoring chances early and late, but the Bucs used solid pitching and defense to leave eight Volunteer runners stranded on the night.
The Vols left a runner on second in the first two innings, while Will Maddox worked a one-out walk in the third, but he was caught stealing when Matt Sorrow (Griffin, Ga.) threw a strike to second to end any scoring threat.
After Tennessee retired the first nine ETSU hitters to start the game, the Bucs finally broke through in the fourth when Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.) led off the inning with a walk – and after Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.) reached on a fielder’s choice – Freeman came through with the biggest hit of the game when he blasted a 0-1 pitch to right for a two-run homer, giving the Blue and Gold a 2-0 lead.
The Vols cut their deficit in half in the bottom of the fourth when Nick Senzel reached on a one-out walk, and after moving to second on one of two balks by Burton, the Tennessee designated hitter scored on Taylor Smart’s two-out RBI single, making it a 2-1 score.
Both teams missed scoring opportunities in the fifth when Dylan Tritsch (Boca Raton, Fla.) led off the inning with a single to right and moved to second on a failed pickoff attempt; however, the senior outfielder was left stranded when Drake Owenby got the next three Buccaneers to pop out. Tyler Roach (Knoxville, Tenn.) popped up on a bunt attempt, Trey York (Knoxville, Tenn.) popped out to second, and Sorrow ended the inning by flying out to right-center.
Fortunately, Tennessee couldn’t capitalize on a leadoff bunt single by Tyler Schultz in the bottom of the inning. After Schultz advanced to second on a sac-bunt, Burton worked out of the frame unscathed by getting A.J. Simcox and Christin Stewart to fly out.
The Vols threatened with a pair of two-out hits in the seventh, but with runners on the corners, Chesney kept the Bucs’ one-run lead intact by inducing Simcox to hit into an inning-ending fly out to right.
With ETSU's pitching and defense coming through in the clutch, Freeman moved from first to the mound in the eighth and struck out four of the seven Tennessee hitters he faced – including the final two hitters to earn his seventh save of the year.
Tritsch and Roach posted the other hits for the Bucs and Tritsch has now reached base safely in 14 straight games.
Freshman right-hander Kyle Serrano suffered the loss (2-1) after allowing the two-run homer to Freeman. Maddox had one of the six hits for UT and reached base four times after finishing with three walks.
The Bucs continue their road swing Wednesday night when ETSU heads to Boone to take on Appalachian State at 6 p.m. at Smith Stadium.
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