JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 14, 2015) – The frigid temperatures couldn’t slow down the ETSU baseball team this weekend at Thomas Stadium.
Trey York (Knoxville, Tenn.) belted a pair of home runs and Jordan Sanford (Powell, Tenn.) added one of his own as the Bucs cruised to a 12-2 win and swept the shortened series over Eastern Kentucky on Saturday afternoon.
As a team, the Blue and Gold pounded out 12 hits, while York, Sanford, Kevin Phillips (St. Louis, Mo.) and Zach Thompson (Johnson City, Tenn.) all registered multi-hit games. York – who now has three home runs on the season and four for his career (all coming against EKU) – drove in a career-high four runs and tied a career-best with three hits. The Knoxville, Tenn. native is the first Buccaneer to homer in consecutive games and hit two home runs in one game since Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.) did so last season. Sanford extended his streak of reaching base safely to 22 consecutive games after going 2 for 4 with his homer, while Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.) pushed his hit streak to 11 straight games following an RBI single in a four-run second inning. Phillips was 2 for 5 with a triple, an RBI and two runs scored and Thompson went 2 for 4 with an RBI, one run scored and a stolen base.
Meanwhile, as the Buccaneer hitters were feasting on EKU pitching, ETSU’s hurlers were mowing down the Colonel batters. Junior Lee Haeberle (Hendersonville, Tenn.) made his first start in a Buccaneer uniform and picked up the win (1-0) after allowing one run on five hits and struck out five in six innings of work. Fellow junior Griffin Krieg (Nashville, Tenn.) – who was slated to start the series finale – tossed two innings of one-run ball in relief, and freshman Ryan Simpler (Lewes, Del.) struck out the side to end the game in the ninth.
ETSU (2-0) has now won three straight season-opening series and six of their last seven.
EKU (0-2), like they did in Friday’s opener, jumped ahead in the top of the first as Shea Sullivan led off with a double to right-center and scored on Taylor Blair’s single to left-center. Haeberle did a nice job working out of a jam as Blair moved to second on a passed ball, but Hagen Oweny (Knoxville, Tenn.) picked off the EKU designated hitter. Following a one-out walk to Mandy Alvarez, Haeberle forced Kyle Nowlin to fly out to right and ended the inning by striking out TJ Alas swinging.
The Blue and Gold answered with four runs on four hits in the second and led, 4-1, after two complete innings. Phillips and Andrew Lasure (Stanford, Ky.) led off the frame with consecutive singles – and after both runners moved up on Sanford’s sac-but –Thompson drove in the first run on his sac-fly to center. From there, York continued his clutch two-out hitting by driving in Lasure with a single to left and the Buccaneer second baseman scored on Taylor’s single up the middle. With runners on the corners, Taylor looked to have been picked off, but EKU first baseman Ben Fisher’s throw to second went into the outfield allowing Daniel Tucker (Hendersonville, Tenn.) – who earlier worked a five-pitch walk – to score the fourth and final run of the inning.
York was at it again in the fourth as he led off the inning with a towering home run over the wall in left-center extending ETSU’s lead to, 5-1, over the Colonels.
Haeberle settled in after surrendering the first-inning run as he held EKU scoreless for the next five frames and the Buccaneer bats continued to remain red-hot.
Following the four-run second and York’s solo shot in the fourth, ETSU opened things up with a five-run sixth to grab a nine-run lead, 10-1. The long ball came into play again in the inning as Sanford led off the sixth with a solo shot off the scoreboard, while York followed with a two-run blast after Thompson reached via a walk. From there, Tucker and Taylor both reached on walks and with the bases loaded, Owenby brought in Tucker by taking four straight pitches outside the strike zone. Taylor eventually scored the fifth run of the frame on Lasure’s fielder’s choice RBI.
The Colonels ended their scoring drought when Alas homered in the eighth, but Krieg bounced back to the end the inning, while the Bucs plated two more in the bottom half of the frame. Phillips brought in Owenby on a triple to left-center and the ETSU first baseman scored on a wild pitch.
Simpler struck out the side in his collegiate debut in the ninth to secure the 10-run win.
Sophomore left-hander Alex Hamilton took the loss (0-1) after issuing five runs (four earned) on six hits in five innings.
Alas and Doug Teegarden both finished with two hits for the Colonels. Overall, EKU finished with eight hits.
The teams were scheduled to play a doubleheader on Saturday, but the coaches decided to cancel the finale prior to the start of the game due to the cold temperatures rolling into the area.
The Bucs return to action next weekend when ETSU heads to Spartanburg, S.C. for the Upstate Classic. The Blue and Gold take on the tournament host USC Upstate on Friday afternoon at 4 p.m.
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