JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 13, 2015) – Trey York (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Hagen Owenby (Knoxville, Tenn.) both belted two-run home runs and Jimmy Nesselt (Plantation, Fla.) recorded a quality start as the ETSU baseball team posted a 7-3 Opening Day win over Eastern Kentucky on Friday afternoon at Thomas Stadium.
Despite falling behind by two runs early and trailing by a run after five complete innings, the Knoxville duo of York and Owenby showcased their power by going yard. York’s two-out, two-run bomb to center tied the game at two in the second, while Owenby’s two-run shot in the sixth proved to be the game-winner. York was one of three Buccaneers to finish with a two-hit game as Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.) and Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.) also accomplished the feat. Taylor went 2 for 4 with a pair of doubles and two RBI, while Cook doubled and drove in a run. Following hits 2-hit effort, Taylor has now hit safely in 10 straight games dating back to the 2014 season.
Nesselt, who was making his first Opening Day start, earned the win (1-0) after allowing three runs on four hits in six innings. The senior right-hander walked two and struck out six. Following his six innings of work, the ETSU bullpen shut down the Colonels as Jamin McCann (Kingsport, Tenn.), Kain Hewitt (Gainesville, Ga.) and Dillon Cate (Sevierville, Tenn.) combined for three scoreless innings in relief.
As a team, ETSU (1-0) out-hit EKU, 8-7, while six Buccaneer hits went for extra bases.
The Colonels struck first by plating a pair of runs on two hits in the top of the first to grab a 2-0 lead. Shea Sullivan led off the game taking the first pitch he saw from Nesselt to right field, while Mandy Alvarez – who reached on a one-out fielder’s choice – later scored when TJ Alas reached on an infield dribbler to first. The Colonels tacked on their second run on a double steal as Alas stayed in a run-down long enough to allow Kyle Nowlin to cross the plate.
However, ETSU answered with a bang in the second to tie things at two.
York showed great poise at the plate as he battled off six pitches before sending a two-strike, two-out pitch over the wall in deep center to pull even with the Colonels. Jordan Sanford (Powell, Tenn.), who extended his streak of reaching base safely to 21 straight games after being hit earlier in the frame, trotted home on York’s round tripper.
The long-ball came back into play in the top of the fourth, unfortunately, it favored EKU. Alas connected on a two-out solo homer to right-center to put the Colonels back ahead, 3-2.
Fortunately, the Bucs weren’t done with the fireworks and rallied for the four-run win.
Following the solo homer to Alas in the fourth, Nesselt retired seven of the final eight hitters he faced and was in line for the win after Owenby’s first collegiate home run gave ETSU a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the sixth.
After McCann worked out a jam in the top of the seventh, the Blue and Gold offense tacked on three insurance runs in the bottom half of the frame, courtesy of Taylor’s two-RBI double to left and he later scored on Cook’s ground out to second.
From there, Hewitt and Cate silenced EKU’s bats to send the Buccaneer faithful home with the victory.
Senior Logan Hershenow took the loss (0-1) for the Colonels as he was charged with four runs on five hits in six innings of work, while Alas led EKU’s offense with a three-hit day.
With bad weather expected to hit the Tri-Cities region on Saturday night, the teams agreed to play a doubleheader beginning at noon on Saturday. The first game will be a full nine-inning game, while the nightcap will go seven innings.
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