FT. MYERS, Fla. (May 11, 2014) – Jordan Sanford (Powell, Tenn.) registered a career-high four hits and Chris Riopedre (Miami, Fla.) drove in three RBI, but it wasn’t enough to help rally ETSU past Florida Gulf Coast as the Eagles completed the series sweep with an 8-7 win on Sunday afternoon at Swanson Stadium.
Despite snapping a 22-inning scoreless streak and taking their first lead of the series by scoring four runs in the first three innings, ETSU couldn’t cool off the surging Eagles as FGCU plated five runs in the fourth and held off a late Buccaneer comeback.
The Bucs managed to score the final three runs of the game as the Blue and Gold scratched a run across in the fifth, while Sanford and Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.) pulled ETSU within a run by posting RBI singles in the eighth, but FGCU relievers Sterling Koerner and Zack Tillery combined to retire the last five hitters to close out the series sweep. Tillery worked a perfect 1-2-3 ninth inning to earn his third save of the campaign.
Sanford finished 4-for-5 with two runs and an RBI, while Riopedre went 3-for-5 with a double and two runs to go with his three runs driven in. Taylor also finished with a multi-hit game (two hits and a walk), and Kevin Phillips (St. Louis, Mo.) and Andrew Lasure (Stanford, Ky.) had the other RBI for the Blue and Gold.
Overall, ETSU out-hit the FGCU, 15-13, but the Eagles got home runs by Michael Suchy and Cody Hoffner. Suchy went 3-for-5 with one double, one home run, two runs and three RBI, while Hoffner was 2-for-4 with a run and RBI. Jake Noll also finished with three hits, scored two runs and had an RBI.
ETSU, who has now been swept in its last two conference road series, dropped to 24-26, 11-12 in A-Sun play, while FGCU improved to 35-18, 18-6 and jumped ahead of Mercer (trailing 2-0 in the top of the eighth vs. Stetson) for first-place in the league standings.
Just like they did all series, FGCU built an early lead as Suchy belted a two-run home run in the bottom of the first; however, ETSU finally snapped its scoreless streak by pushing across a run in the second and three more in the third to go ahead, 4-2, marking the Bucs’ first lead of the series.
ETSU scored its first run of the series in the top of the second when Lasure’s two-out RBI single to right field brought home Riopedre from third, making it a 2-1 game. Then, in the third, the Bucs got a two-out, two-run scoring double by Riopedre and a two-out RBI single from Phillips to give Jamin McCann (Kingsport, Tenn.) a two-run cushion.
Unfortunately, the lead didn’t stand for long as FGCU picked up an RBI groundout in the third and the Eagles plated five runs in the fourth to regain an 8-4 lead. Hoffner tied the game at four when he led off the bottom of the fourth inning with a home run to left, while Noll and Suchy ripped RBI singles, forcing the Blue and Gold to make a pitching change as Logan Rice (Erwin, Tenn.) relieved McCann with one out and runners on first and second. Rice retired the first hitter he faced but issued a back-to-back two-out RBI singles to Tillery and Colton Bottomley before working out of a bases loaded jam.
The Bucs got a run back in the top of the fifth when Riopedre came through with his third hit of the day and drove in Sanford – who led off the inning with a single – but ETSU was unable to do further damage. The Blue and Gold had runners on first and second with one out, but Garrett Anderson entered from the bullpen to retire the next two Buccaneer hitters, keeping it an 8-5 lead.
ETSU threatened in the sixth as the Bucs had runners on first and second with two outs when Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.) hit a laser back to the mound, which knocked the glove off Anderson. However, ETSU tried to score Trey York (Knoxville, Tenn.) on the play and he was easily tagged out at the plate to end the inning.
With Will Chesney (Knoxville, Tenn.) holding the Eagles scoreless for the final three innings, the Buccaneer offense rallied for two runs in the top of the eighth, pulling within a run of FGCU, 8-7. ETSU registered four straight one-out singles as Taylor and Sanford drove in Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.) and York to make it a one-run game. However, Koerner kept FGCU ahead as he got Freeman and Riopedre to hit consecutive fly outs to center to end the inning.
Tillery moved from third to the mound in the ninth and retired the Bucs in order to cap off the one-run win.
Anderson earned the win (3-2) after allowing two runs on four hits in three innings out of the pen, while McCann was dealt the loss (3-4) as he was tagged for eight runs on eight hits in 3.1 innings of work. Chesney held FGCU to a pair of hits in his three scoreless innings of action.
The Bucs wrap up regular season play with a four-game homestand, beginning Tuesday night when ETSU hosts Appalachian State. Game time is set for 7:05 p.m. at Thomas Stadium.
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