NASHVILLE, Tenn. (April 6, 2014) – The ETSU baseball team opened its road swing on a positive note by taking down No. 25 Tennessee last Tuesday in Knoxville, but things quickly took a turn for the worse during the remainder of the trip.
The Blue and Gold lost the final four games of the swing as ETSU was swept by Lipscomb after a 6-3 setback Sunday afternoon at Dugan Field.
Following the win in Knoxville, the Bucs endured a heartbreaking walk-off loss at Appalachian State and suffered their first conference sweep since dropping three to Stetson in May of 2012.
After losing five of its last six games, ETSU has dipped to 14-17, 4-5 in A-Sun play, while it marks the longest losing streak since dropping five straight last April. Lipscomb, who was swept by the Blue and Gold last season, remained red-hot by improving to 21-12, 10-2. The Bisons have now won six straight over the Bucs in Nashville and have also won 19 of their last 23 games this season en route to moving into first-place in the A-Sun.
"Today was a difficult day to a disappointing weekend,” said head coach Tony Skole. “I want to congratulate Lipscomb, because they played and pitched at a very high level this weekend. They made things very difficult for us. It's easy to see why they are leading the A-Sun right now.
“We really struggled offensively at the top of our lineup all three days – and from a defensive standpoint – we got behind in the first inning every game. They punched us right in the mouth and we never could land a blow of our own.”
Just like they did all weekend, Lipscomb jumped out of the gates in a hurry as the Bisons plated three runs in the first – highlighted by a two-out, two-run triple from Tyson Ashcraft – giving the host team a 3-0 lead after an inning of play.
ETSU chipped away at its deficit by scoring two runs in the second, making it a 3-2 game. With one out, Dylan Tritsch (Boca Raton, Fla.) hit a single to left and advanced to third on a double by Tyler Roach (Knoxville, Tenn.). After Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.) was hit by a pitch to the load the bases, Trey York (Knoxville, Tenn.) drove in the two runs with a single to right, but Taylor was called out at third on the play and Matt Sorrow (Griffin, Ga.) hit into an inning-ending groundout.
Unfortunately, that's as close as the Blue and Gold got, as the Bisons got the two runs back in the bottom of the third and extended their lead to, 5-2.
After the Bucs scored two runs in the second, Norman retired ETSU in order in the third and fourth innings, before Taylor led off the fifth with a solo shot to right field for his second home run of the year.
However, ETSU was unable to build off the round tripper as Norman held the Bucs scoreless for the remainder of the game.
The Bucs threatened in the sixth when Andrew Lasure (Stanford, Ky.) and Tritsch both registered one-out singles, but Norman worked out of the jam. The Lipscomb hurler got Roach to fly out and induced Taylor into an inning-ending grounder to second.
From there, Norman retired the side in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, while Drew Adams put the finishing touches on the sweep with a leadoff homer in the eighth.
Norman followed in Hunter Brothers' footsteps as he went the distance and improved to 5-1 on the campaign. Norman allowed the three runs on seven hits, while striking out seven and walking none. Freshman southpaw Jamin McCann (Kingsport, Tenn.) suffered his second straight loss (2-3) as he was charged with five runs on eight hits in four innings of action. McCann struck out two and didn't issue a walk, while senior right-hander Logan Rice (Erwin, Tenn.) tossed the final four innings in relief. Rice allowed one run on two hits.
At the plate, the Bucs were led by York and Tritsch as they both had two-hit games. Tritsch has now reached base safely in 18 straight games, while York went 5 for 10 with two runs and two RBI on the weekend.
Meanwhile, Lipscomb, who hit .364 for the series, had four players post two-hit games – Adams, Grant Massey, Austin Sistrunk, and Josh Lee.
“We did some things well this weekend, but if there’s one thing this team needs to continue to improve on, it's simply handling things better when they don't go our way,” said Skole. “Baseball will test you in many ways, and right now for many of our guys, the game is teaching them a difficult lesson. Their toughness is being checked, but I'm confident we will learn from this weekend and get back to playing the game at a high level."
The Bucs looked to end the skid when ETSU hosts The Citadel Wednesday night at 7:05 p.m. at Thomas Stadium.
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