BOONE, N.C. (April 2, 2014) – Fresh off its win over No. 25 Tennessee on Tuesday night, the ETSU baseball team looked to keep momentum rolling into Boone. Unfortunately, the Bucs couldn’t pick up consecutive road wins in as many days, as Matt Brill’s walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth lifted the Mountaineers to a 7-6 win over the Bucs Wednesday night at Smith Stadium.
Despite falling behind by three runs after the first inning, the Blue and Gold fought back to tie the game at four in the fourth and eventually regained a one-run lead on Chris Riopedre’s (Miami, Fla.) two-run home run in the seventh, but after Appalachian State tied it a six in the bottom of the inning Brill stepped up with the game-winning hit in the ninth.
Riopedre and Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.) drove in four of the six runs, while Dylan Tritsch (Boca Raton, Fla.) and Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.) accounted for four of ETSU’s nine hits. Tritsch extended his streak of reaching base safely to 15 straight games after going 2 for 4 with one double and a run scored, while Cook, who has reached safely in 14 of his last 15 outings, also registered a pair of hits and scored two runs. Following his two-RBI game on Wednesday, Freeman has now driven in at least one run in his last six games, while Riopedre posted his fourth home run of the season.
ETSU starter Kameron Miller (Crestview, Fla.) allowed four runs on three hits in the first inning and senior right-hander Logan Rice (Erwin, Tenn.) entered in relief following back-to-back home runs by the Mountaineers. Rice was effective and kept the Bucs in the contest after allowing one run on five hits, while striking out five and walking none in five innings. Fellow senior Will Chesney (Knoxville, Tenn.) retired the first six hitters he faced after coming in with one out in the seventh, but suffered the loss (2-2) after loading the bases with one out in the ninth and allowing the walk-off hit to Brill. Chesney surrendered the one run on three hits and struck out three in 2.1 innings in relief.
Following the setback, the Blue and Gold moved back to .500 on the year (14-14), while Appalachian State, who lost on a walk-off single at No. 1 South Carolina on Tuesday, improved to 9-17.
The Bucs struck first when a one-out RBI single by Freeman scored Cook – who reached via a single and stole second – but the ETSU senior two-way player was called out at second and the Mountaineers got out of the inning by inducing Riopedre to groundout.
The lead didn’t hold long as Appalachian State scored four runs in the bottom of the inning to go ahead, 4-1. The Mountaineers received back-to-back home runs as Jaylin Davis belted a three-run shot to left-center and Michael Pierson followed that up with a solo homer to right.
However, after the rough first inning, Rice answered the challenge out of the pen and he tossed five solid innings to keep the Bucs in the contest.
ETSU’s offense responded by plating a run in the third and two more in the fourth to pull even at four.
Freeman drove in his second run of the night when Gage Downey (Franklin, Tenn.) scored on his sac-fly RBI to left in the third, while Tritsch led off the fourth inning with a double to left-center and later scored on an RBI groundout by Trey York (Knoxville, Tenn.). From there, Downey worked a two-out walk and tied the game when he scored on Jeremy Taylor’s (Fayetteville, Ga.) double down the line in left.
The Mountaineers regained a 5-4 lead in the fifth when Pierson and Tyler Zupcic recorded back-to-back two-out doubles, but the Bucs jumped back ahead, 6-5, courtesy of Riopedre’s two-run home run in the seventh.
The homer by Riopedre would be the last time ETSU led in the contest as the see-saw game continued in the bottom of the inning when Zupcic provided Appalachian State with another RBI hit. Zupcic’s one-out single to right-center brought home Preston Troutman and knotted the score at six. From there, Chesney entered out of the pen and did a tremendous job keeping the game tied as he struck out Bradley Morton swinging on three pitches and got Brill to hit into an inning-ending fly out to center, which left runners stranded on the corners.
The Blue and Gold squandered a scoring chance in the eighth when York reached on an error to start the inning, moved to second on a sac-bunt from pinch hitter Jordan Sanford (Powell, Tenn.), and advanced to third on a groundout by Taylor. Unfortunately, York was left standing at third when Cook grounded out to short to end the frame.
After Chesney retired the Mountaineers in order in the eighth and the Bucs went 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth, Appalachian State struck for the game-winning hit in the bottom of the ninth. Chesney retired the Mountaineers’ leadoff hitter, but Appalachian State then picked up a single by Davis and a double from Pierson, which led to Zupcic receiving an intentional walk to load the bases. With one out and nowhere to put Brill, the freshman two-way player took the first pitch he saw from Chesney to right-center for the walk-off hit.
Junior right-hander Robert Whaley earned the win (1-1) after holding the Bucs without a hit in the final two innings, while five different Appalachian State hitters finished with multi-hit efforts, including Brill’s two-hit performance. As a team, the Mountaineers posted 14 hits with Pierson leading the way with three hits.
The Bucs return to conference play this weekend as ETSU heads to Nashville for a three-game series with Lipscomb starting Friday night at 7 p.m. Eastern from Dugan Field.
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