JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (April 19, 2014) – Mother Nature wreaked havoc in the River City this weekend.
Due to heavy rains and severe thunderstorms hovering around northeast Florida all weekend, the ETSU baseball series at Jacksonville was shortened as both teams walked away with one win each. Following a 13-6 setback in Thursday's opener, the Blue and Gold bounced back with a rain-shortened win on Saturday.
Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.) belted a three-run home run in the top of the first and Jimmy Nesselt (Plantation, Fla.) gave the Bucs a quality start as ETSU forced a split with a 7-3 victory over the Dolphins on a rainy Saturday afternoon at John Sessions Stadium.
The remainder of the game and series couldn’t be completed as heavy rains moved in during the bottom of the seventh forcing unplayable conditions.
Freeman, who belted his Atlantic Sun leading ninth home run of the year, went 1 for 3 with the three-run homer and he was one of eight ETSU players to register a hit in the game. Junior Jordan Sanford (Powell, Tenn.) and senior Tyler Roach (Knoxville, Tenn.) provided the Bucs with two-hit games. Sanford drove in a run with an RBI double in the sixth, while Roach singled in the third and seventh.
Nesselt earned his second straight winning decision (4-3) after allowing three runs on eight hits in six-plus innings of work. The Buccaneer right-hander also struck out three and walked none.
After the split, ETSU heads back to Johnson City with a record of 19-18, 8-6 in A-Sun play, while Jacksonville sits 13-25, 7-10. The Bucs now gear up for a pair of midweek home games, which begins Tuesday night when ETSU hosts Tennessee at Thomas Stadium. Game time is set for 7:05 p.m., and only a limited of standing-room-only tickets remain for the contest.
The Bucs got off to a strong start and kept momentum rolling until the rains came, as ETSU scored three runs in the first and tacked on another run in the third, giving the Blue and Gold a 4-0 lead.
In the first, Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.) and Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.) started the game with back-to-back singles, and Freeman drove them by belting his three-run homer to right field, giving ETSU a three-run cushion.
ETSU added to its lead in the third when Chris Riopedre (Miami, Fla.) hit a one-out double to left and went to third on Tyler Roach’s (Knoxville, Tenn.) single to right-center. With one out and runners on the corners, Riopedre scored the eventual game-winning run when Jacksonville third baseman Scott Schaub had trouble fielding a grounder by Kevin Phillips (St. Louis, Mo.), making it a 4-0 ballgame.
After the Dolphins left a runner stranded at third in the fourth and fifth innings, the Bucs extended their lead to 5-0 in the sixth, courtesy of Sanford’s two-out RBI double down the line in left.
Nesselt kept Jacksonville off the board through the fifth inning as he retired 15 of the first 20 hitters he faced, but the Dolphins struck for two runs on three hits in the sixth to pull within three runs of the Bucs, 5-2. Connor Marabell led off the inning with a double to left and scored on a sac-fly by Nate Ricci, while Michael Babb’s two-out RBI double plated Braddock Rowe.
The Bucs managed to get the two runs back in the top of the seventh as Phillips and Trey York (Knoxville, Tenn.) both recorded two-out RBIs to push ETSU’s lead to, 7-2. With the bases loaded, Phillips worked a five-pitch walk to bring home Freeman, who was intentionally walked earlier in the frame, while York’s single to third scored Riopedre.
The Dolphins recorded consecutive doubles by Dylan Dillard and Angelo Amendolare in the bottom half of the inning, bringing Nesselt’s day to an end. Freeman moved from first to the mound and forced Cameron Gibson to foul out to Phillips at first.
However, that was the final out of the game, as storms moved in quickly and the tarp was unable to get on the field, resulting in the game/series being called.
Jacksonville left-hander Josh Baker took the loss (3-3) as he was charged with seven runs (six earned) on eight hits in 6.1 innings of work.
Marabell and Amendolare combined for four of the Dolphins’ eight hits in the losing effort as they both recorded two-hit games.
Following its game against Tennessee on Tuesday, the Blue and Gold host Radford Wednesday night at 7:05 p.m.
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