Bears scored two unearned runs on three ETSU errors
MACON, Ga. (March 20, 2015) – The ETSU baseball team wasted a dominating pitching performance by senior right-hander Jimmy Nesselt (Plantation, Fla.) as Mercer plated unearned runs in the fourth and fifth innings en route to winning the series opener, 2-0, on Friday night at Claude Smith Field.
Nesselt battled with Mercer starter Eric Nyquist as the Bears’ senior right-hander – who entered the night with a 1.66 ERA – tossed a complete-game three-hit shutout to kickoff Southern Conference play. Nyquist (3-1) also struck out seven and walked two.
Three errors and a passed ball blunder cost the the Bucs and spoiled Nesselt’s gem as the Buccaneer senior suffered his first loss of the campaign. Nesselt (3-1) was charged with the two unearned runs on four hits and struck out eight in seven innings of work.
Despite ETSU’s pitching staff retiring 10 straight hitters to end the night, the Buccaneer offense, which totaled 41 hits in their two previous games, was held to three singles and a pair of walks. Red-shirt senior Daniel Tucker (Hendersonville, Tenn.) broke up Nyquist’s no-hit bit with a two-out bunt hit in the fifth, while Kevin Phillips (St. Louis, Mo.) led off the seventh with a single to first and Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.) singled to right in the ninth. Junior Trey York (Knoxville, Tenn.) has reached base in all 19 games this season after he earned a four-pitch walk in the fourth and Cook recorded the other walk in the sixth.
ETSU (11-8, 0-1) had its four-game win streak snapped after being shutout for the first time since May 10 of the last year, while Mercer (13-11, 1-0) – who was coming off a 16-4 win over Georgia – pick up its first-ever SoCon win.
In a classic pitcher’s duel, both teams struggled offensively, but the Bears made ETSU pay for its fielding miscues in the middle innings.
Nesselt worked through the first three innings with ease, but his defense let him down in the fourth as Mercer grabbed a 1-0 lead. Kyle Lewis led off the inning by reaching on a fielding error by Cook at third, while his throwing error allowed the Mercer outfielder to advance to second and he moved to third on a passed ball by Hagen Owenby (Knoxville, Tenn.). The fielding miscues continued to plague the Blue and Gold as Lewis scored when Danny Edgeworth reached on a fielding error by Danny Carrier (Cincinnati, Ohio) at short; however, Nesselt worked out of the jam by retiring the next three Mercer hitters, keeping it a one-run game.
The blunders haunted the Bucs again in the fifth as Nesselt struck out Jose Hernandez to start the inning, but he reached on a passed ball and later scored on an RBI single by Matt Meeder, extending the Bears lead to, 2-0.
Neither team threatened from that juncture as ETSU never had a base runner reach second base following the fourth inning, and Nesselt, Josh Jacques (Rollinsford, N.H.) and Kain Hewitt (Gainesville, Ga.) combined to retire the last 10 Mercer hitters.
Mercer’s top three batters in the lineup combined for three of its four hits on the night.
Due to rain expected to hit the area on Sunday, the teams will wrap up the series with a doubleheader on Saturday starting at 1 p.m. at Claude Smith Field.
ETSU fans wanting to receive Buccaneer news, score updates, in-game promotions and much more sent to their mobile device can do so by signing up for “Buc Updates.” Click here to sign up today!
For more information on Buccaneer baseball, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the baseball page.