JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (April 22, 2014) – With a record-setting crowd of 1,811 fans on hand, the ETSU baseball team completed the season sweep of Tennessee, as the Bucs defeated the Vols, 9-7, on Tuesday night at Thomas Stadium.
After winning a 2-1 pitchers’ duel earlier this month in Knoxville, ETSU got its offense going early and often as the Blue and Gold scored at least one run in four of the first five innings to grab momentum. Overall, ETSU pounded out 10 hits, while seven Buccaneers registered a hit and eight reached base in the two-run victory.
Senior Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.) belted his Atlantic Sun-leading 10th home run of the year and earned his 19th career save, tying him with Bo Reeder (2009-11) for first-place all-time in the Buccaneer record book. Freeman hit a two-out solo home run in the fourth inning, while he pitched the final two innings to pick up his ninth save of the season. Freeman also extended his hit streak to seven straight games following his round tripper.
Senior Tyler Roach (Knoxville, Tenn.) also connected on a solo homer in the eighth and tied a career-high with a three-hit night. Roach drove in two runs and scored a run, while Trey York (Knoxville, Tenn.) finished with two hits (one triple), one run and one RBI. Meanwhile, Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.), Chris Riopedre (Miami, Fla.), and Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.) all extended hit streaks of their own. Taylor, who has scored a run in eight straight games, has now hit safely in eight consecutive contests, while Riopedre and Cook have posted a hit in seven consecutive outings.
Jimmy Nesselt (Plantation, Fla.) got the start for the Blue and Gold and earned his third winning decision (5-3) after tossing one scoreless inning. Following Nesselt’s stint, the Bucs used five relievers as Jamin McCann (Kingsport, Tenn.) held Tennessee to one hit in two innings of action, and Will Chesney (Knoxville, Tenn.) also pitched a scoreless frame in the seventh.
With the victory, ETSU (20-18) extended its home win streak to five straight games, and the Bucs have now won seven of the last 10 and nine of 14 over Tennessee. Meanwhile, the Vols have lost 10 of their last 16 and dipped to 25-14 on the campaign.
The Bucs jumped on Tennessee early as ETSU scored a run in the first and three more in the third to lead, 4-0. Riopedre put the Blue and Gold on the board in the first as ETSU loaded the bases with no outs and his sacrifice fly to center scored Taylor from third; however, the Bucs were unable to make a larger dent in the scoreboard as Bret Marks retired the next two hitters he faced to work out of the jam.
Fortunately, ETSU took advantage of another bases loaded situation in the third as Kevin Phillips (St. Louis, Mo.) ignited the scoring spree when his double down the line in left brought home Cook and Freeman, and York’s single to right plated Riopedre, giving the Bucs a four-run cushion.
The Vols responded with a three-run fourth to cut ETSU’s lead to one, 4-3, but the Blue and Gold answered the challenge by tacking on a pair of two-out RBI in the bottom half of the frame and extended their advantage to, 6-3. Freeman got things rolling by mauling a home run over the centerfield wall – marking the second homer against the Vols this season – while Riopedre worked a walk, advanced to second on a failed pickoff attempt, and scored when Christin Stewart lost the ball in the lights out in left, resulting in an RBI double by Roach.
From there, Tennessee plated a run in the fifth, but the Bucs countered by pushing across two runs in the bottom half of the inning, making it an 8-4 ballgame. York led off the inning with a triple to right-center and scored on a fielder’s choice RBI by Taylor, while the Buccaneer outfielder came home on Cook’s two-out RBI single to center.
The Vols inched closer in the sixth when Vincent Jackson led off the inning with a home run to right, but Roach followed suit in the eighth when he connected on his third homer of the year with a two-out blast to left, making it a 9-5 score.
Tennessee didn’t back down in the top of the ninth, as the Vols received a one-out RBI double by Stewart and he later scored on Nick Senzel’s single to center, pulling UT within two, 9-7. However, after giving up his first runs since March 14, Freeman zoned in and induced Scott Price to hit into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Marks was dealt his first loss of the season (3-1) after allowing one run on one hit, while walking two in one inning of work. The Vols used six different pitchers after Marks and four of the hurlers issued runs.
Just like they did in Knoxville, Tennessee outhit the Blue and Gold after totaling 12 hits. A.J. Simcox and Senzel led the pack at three hits each. Simcox scored two runs and Senzel had two of UT’s five RBI.
The Bucs look to post their sixth straight home win when ETSU hosts Radford Wednesday night at 7:05 p.m.
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