RADFORD, Va. (March 24, 2015) – The ETSU baseball team suffered its second consecutive walk-off loss as Brad Keen’s two-out, three-run home run in the bottom of the 10th inning lifted Radford to a 7-4 victory Tuesday night at the RU Baseball Stadium.
Despite ETSU’s bullpen holding Radford scoreless in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, the Blue and Gold again couldn’t muster a final out to prolong the game. With one out and runners on the corners, Peyton Taylor (Kingsport, Tenn.) got Josh Reavis to pop out to third; however, on the next at-bat, Keen took a 3-2 pitch over the wall in left for his second home run of the season.
The Bucs, who led 4-3 in the top of the sixth, had their chances, but ETSU went 2 for 17 with runners on base, 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position and left a total of nine base runners stranded.
Radford out-hit the Blue and Gold, 14-5, while Ryan Meisinger (2-0) struck out six of the seven ETSU hitters he faced to earn the win. Following scoreless relief appearances from Connor Bartow (Jonesborough, Tenn.), Dalton Long (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Dillon Cate (Sevierville, Tenn.), Taylor (0-1) issued the three runs on two hits in two-thirds of an inning to take the loss.
Coming off a weekend where ETSU dropped three in the Southern Conference opener at Mercer – including the final on a two-out, walk-off home run by Kyle Lewis in the series finale – the Bucs dipped to 11-11, while Radford won for the third time in four tries and improved to 12-11.
Sophomore Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.) had two of the five hits for the Bucs and scored two runs.
In a game that lasted nearly four hours, Radford and ETSU exchanged runs early on until the bullpen shut things down until the game-winning hit.
The Highlanders plated the first run of the night when Josh Gardiner led off the bottom of the first with a double to left and later scored on Hunter Higgerson’s two-out single to short; however, ETSU tied it up in the top of the second, courtesy of Zach Thompson’s (Johnson City, Tenn.) sacrifice fly to center. Danny Carrier (Cincinnati, Ohio) led off with a double to left and moved to third on Daniel Tucker’s (Hendersonville, Tenn.) bunt single, resulting in Thompson’s sac-fly to pull even at one.
Radford regained a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the second as Jordan Taylor laced a one-out triple to left-center and came home on Keen’s sac-fly to center, but the Blue and Gold knotted it at two in the top of the third when Hagen Owenby’s (Knoxville, Tenn.) two-out single to left scored Cook from second.
The seesaw game continued when the Highlanders went ahead, 3-2, on Chris Coia’s two-out double to right-center in the bottom of the fourth, but ETSU quickly pulled even at three in the top of the fifth. With one out, Cook posted his second hit of the night with a single to center and advanced to second when Trey York (Knoxville, Tenn.) reached via catcher’s interference for the second time. After both Buccaneers executed a double steal, Cook hustled home on Kevin Phillips’ (St. Louis, Mo.) sac-fly RBI to center.
ETSU took its first lead of the night when Carrier led off the sixth with a walk and later scored on the second wild pitch of the inning by Austin Ross, putting the Bucs ahead, 4-3; however that didn’t stand long.
The Highlanders pushed across the tying run on an RBI single by Coia in the bottom half of the sixth, but Bartow entered into a one-out bases loaded situation and got out of the jam. Facing Gardiner – Radford’s top hitter – Bartow induced the Highlander second baseman into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play to keep the game tied at four.
From there, the bullpens continued to battle, while ETSU missed a scoring opportunity in the eighth as the Bucs had two on with one out but couldn’t find the timely hit. Again, the Blue and Gold had the winning run in scoring position with one out in the 10th, but Meisinger worked his magic for a second straight inning as he struck out Carrier and Tucker swinging to end the frame.
In total, ETSU’s last six outs at the plate came via the strikeout.
After the Bucs couldn’t find a way to win it in the top of the inning, Keen delivered the big blow in the bottom half for the three-run victory.
Radford’s pitching staff struck out 13 hitters on the night, and offensively, Keen drove in four runs and Coia went 4 for 4 with two RBI. Keen’s blast in the 10th was his only hit of the game.
The Bucs conclude their six-game road swing Wednesday night at Virginia Tech. First pitch is set for 5:30 p.m. at English Field.
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