JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (April 23, 2014) – The ETSU baseball team had its fair share of chances, but a lack of timely hitting doomed the Bucs in a 7-6 setback to Radford Wednesday night at Thomas Stadium.
ETSU, who had its five-game home win streak come to an end, went 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position and left eight runners stranded on the night.
Freshman Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.) hit his first collegiate home run with a solo shot in the third and went 2-for-5 with two runs and an RBI to extend his hit streak to eight straight games. Junior Jordan Sanford (Powell, Tenn.) reached base three times as he went 2-for-3 with one walk, one triple (first as a Buccaneer), one run and one RBI, while Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.), Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.) and Chris Riopedre (Miami, Fla.) all extended their hit streaks in the one-run setback. Freeman and Riopedre have now hit safely in eight straight games, while Taylor moved his hit streak to nine. Freeman went 1-for-4 with an RBI double and was intentionally walked, Riopedre hit his first triple of the year and scored in the third, and Taylor singled to lead off the bottom of the first.
Josh Jacques (Rollinsford, N.H.) suffered the loss (2-4) as the sophomore left-hander allowed five runs on eight hits in 4.2 innings. Senior right-hander Logan Rice (Erwin, Tenn.) tossed two scoreless innings and struck out four of the seven hitters he faced.
Following its victory over Tennessee on Tuesday night, ETSU couldn’t pick up back-to-back wins and dipped to 20-19, while Radford, who has now won three straight over the Bucs, improved to 22-17.
Radford struck first as Josh Gardiner led off the game with a single and scored on an RBI single by Alex Lee to take an early 1-0 lead.
After the Blue and Gold left the bases loaded in the bottom of the first, ETSU broke through two innings later as the Bucs scored a pair of runs in the third to jump ahead, 2-1. Cook led off the frame with a homer to left, while Riopedre laced a one-out triple to right-center and scored on Tyler Roach’s (Knoxville, Tenn.) single to right.
Unfortunately, that would be ETSU’s lone lead of the night as the Highlanders recorded a four-run fifth to regain a 5-2 advantage. With one out and the bases loaded, Lee delivered a two-run scoring single to center and Hunter Higgerson’s two-out double to right-center plated the other two Radford runs.
The Bucs managed to push a run home in the fifth and sixth innings, but ETSU failed to grab momentum as they had a runner on third with no outs in both frames and couldn’t manufacture the timely hit.
In the fifth, Cook led off with a single and scored on Freeman’s RBI double; however, the Buccaneer senior was left at third. Trey York (Knoxville, Tenn.) led off the sixth with a single and sprinted home on Sanford’s triple, but the Powell, Tenn. native – the tying run – was left stranded.
Radford landed the final punch in the top of the seventh as the Highlanders scored two runs on three hits to open a three-run cushion, 7-4. Higgerson came through with the back-breaking hit as his ground-rule double to center scored the pair of runs, but the Blue and Gold didn’t go down without a fight.
ETSU pulled back within a run (7-6) by scratching across two runs in the eighth as Kevin Phillips (St. Louis, Mo.) led off with a double and scored on an RBI groundout by Matt Sorrow (Griffin, Ga.). From there, Sanford, who walked earlier in the inning, came home when Taylor reached on a fielding error by Radford pitcher Michael Costello.
However, the Bucs were unable to cap off the comeback.
After Rice struck out the side in the top of the ninth, the Highlanders followed suit to hang on for the one-run win.
Bridgeman earned the win (1-1) after allowing two runs on four hits while striking out three in 2.2 innings, and Ryan Meisinger collected his first collegiate save after striking out two of the three hitters in the ninth.
Lee and Higgerson combined for five of Radford’s 12 hits and drove in all seven runs. Lee went 3-for-4 with two runs and three RBI, and Higgerson was 2-for-5 with doubles and four RBI.
The Bucs now embark on four-game road swing beginning Friday night with a critical conference series at Kennesaw State. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. at Stillwell Stadium.
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