GREENVILLE, S.C. (May 7, 2014) – For the second straight road game, the ETSU baseball team couldn’t get the all-important 27th out.
Despite leading the entire game, the Bucs couldn’t close things out as Furman third baseman Chris Ohmstede belted a two-out, three-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth to lift the Paladins to a 9-8 win over the Blue and Gold on Wednesday night at Latham Stadium.
The homer was the second of the night for Ohmstede as he also connected on a solo shot in the eighth and drove in six of the nine Paladin runs. As a team, Furman scored six unanswered runs – a streak that began with a two-run sixth inning.
Overall, the Bucs out-hit the Paladins, 16-12, while six ETSU hitters finished with multi-hit games. The top five Buccaneer hitters tallied multi-hit games as they combined for 12 hits on the night. Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.) and Chris Riopedre (Miami, Fla.) both posted three-hits each, while Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.), Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.), Tyler Roach (Knoxville, Tenn.), and Jordan Sanford (Powell, Tenn.) all totaled two hits apiece. Cook extended his hit streak to 16 straight games as he went 2-for-5 with three runs and Riopedre finished 3-for-4 with one double, a run and two RBI. Kevin Phillips (St. Louis, Mo.) reached base twice and tied a season high with three RBI.
Both teams combined to use 14 pitchers as ETSU sent out six different hurlers to the hill. Red-shirt senior right-hander Derek Bushey (Richmond, Va.) – who was in line to earn his first win since March 24, 2012 – allowed three runs on four hits in a season-high three innings, while sophomore left-hander Josh Jacques (Rollinsford, N.H.) tossed two scoreless innings (fourth and fifth) and freshman southpaw Jamin McCann (Kingsport, Tenn.) worked a perfect seventh. Unfortunately, the Buccaneer veterans opened the door for the Paladins as Jimmy Nesselt (Plantation, Fla.), Will Chesney (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Freeman allowed six runs (five earned) in 2.2 innings. In the end, Freeman suffered the loss (2-5) after issuing the walk-off homer to Ohmstede.
The Bucs – who have lost consecutive road games via two-out walk-off homers – had their four-game win streak snapped and dipped to 24-23. Furthermore, the Bucs’ streak of winning 67 straight games when taking a lead into the ninth inning came to an end as it marked ETSU’s first loss since coughing up a 6-5 lead and falling 7-6 in 10 innings to Eastern Kentucky on February 18, 2012. Furman snapped its three-game skid and swept the season series en route to improving to 19-28.
ETSU controlled the majority of the game as the Bucs got off to a strong start by scoring five runs in the first four innings and led, 5-3.
The Bucs jumped out of the gates early by plating a pair of runs in the top of the first, but the Paladins responded with a run of their own to cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the inning. After Taylor led off the game with a fly out to left, the next five Buccaneer hitters reached base safely to scratch across their two runs. Cook began the run when he was hit on a 3-2 pitch and scored when Roach worked a bases loaded walk, while Freeman – who hit a one-out single – came home on Phillips’ RBI single to center. However, the Blue and Gold were unable to do further damage as Furman starter Matthew Quarles induced Sanford to hit into his first double play of the year to end the inning.
The Paladins put their first two hitters on to start the bottom of the inning and Hunter Burton scored on a sac-fly RBI by Ohmstede, making it a 2-1 score, but Sanford limited the damage as he robbed Ohmstede of a three-run home run at the left field fence by bringing the ball back in the park.
Following a scoreless second inning, both teams put up a pair of runs in the third, making it a 4-3 score. ETSU picked up sac-fly RBIs by Phillips and Trey York (Knoxville, Tenn.), but Furman answered with an RBI groundout by Jake Jones and another sac-fly RBI from Ohmstede, keeping it a one-run lead for the Blue and Gold.
The Bucs continued their scoring in the fourth when Cook kept his hit streak alive with a single to right and later scored on Riopedre’s two-out single to left-center, giving ETSU a 5-3 advantage.
From there, the Blue and Gold broke things open by tacking on three runs on four hits in the sixth and moved their lead to, 8-3. Freeman and Riopedre registered RBI singles, while Phillips capped the scoring off with a fielder’s choice RBI.
However, the Bucs were unable to hold on as ETSU was limited to only three hits in the final three innings, and the Paladins slowly began their comeback by scratching across a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth, which cut Furman’s deficit to, 8-5.
After McCann tossed a scoreless seventh and ETSU left one of its 12 runners stranded in the eighth, the Paladins inched within two runs when Ohmstede cracked a solo homer off Chesney in the bottom of the frame.
Again, Ohmstede got his chance in the ninth as Greg Harrison legged out an infield single to third and the Furman slugger jumped on a 1-0 pitch from Freeman for the game-winning blast to left.
Harrison and Ohmstede both finished with two hits each and registered three homers on the night. Meanwhile, Hunter Burton – the NCAA leader in stolen bases – went 4-for-5 with two stolen bases and two runs scored. Burton moved his stolen base total to 35 on the season.
The last four Paladin relievers held the Blue and Gold scoreless as Alex Abrams earned the win (5-1) after working a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
The Blue and Gold now hit the road for one last time in regular season play as ETSU plays a three-game conference set at Florida Gulf Coast, beginning Friday night at 6:30 p.m. at Swanson Stadium.
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