JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (March 27, 2015) – ETSU scored four runs in the seventh and Trey York (Knoxville, Tenn.) blasted a two-run home run in the bottom of ninth, but it wasn’t enough to lift Buccaneers past UNCG as the Spartans took the series opener, 8-6, on Friday night at Thomas Stadium.
The Spartans jumped out to an early lead by plating five runs in the first three innings and junior right-hander Ryan Clark kept ETSU scoreless until the seventh; however, the Bucs couldn’t dig themselves out of the five-run deficit. UNCG used the long ball to add insurance runs in the eighth and ninth innings to secure the road win. Clark earned his fourth straight winning decision (5-1) as he allowed four runs on nine hits in seven innings.
ETSU (11-13, 0-4 SoCon) was out-hit, 16-11, while Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.) extended his hit streak to eight straight games. Cook went 3 for 5 with one double, two runs and an RBI and York followed up with his team-leading 15th multi-hit game of the season. The junior second baseman belted his sixth home run of the year and finished 2 for 5 with a run and three RBI. Jordan Sanford (Powell, Tenn.) also registered a multi-hit game – going 2 for 3 with a walk, run scored and an RBI.
The Spartans jumped all over Jimmy Nesselt (Plantation, Fla.) as UNCG (11-12, 3-1) scored two runs in the first and three more in the third en route to handing Nesselt his first home setback in over a year (March 22, 2014 vs. Stetson). Nesselt (3-2) dropped his second straight decision after being charged with six runs on 13 hits in seven innings. The senior right-hander also struck out four and walked a season-high three.
UNCG did its early damage with two outs as the Spartans picked up a two-out, two-RBI double by Jake Kusz in the first and followed up with a three-run third to go ahead, 5-0. Following a leadoff home run by Hunter King, UNCG received another two-out, two-run scoring hit later in the frame as Eric Kalbfleisch’s single to center plated a pair of Spartans.
Despite putting a runner on in each of the first six innings, ETSU couldn’t figure out Clark until hanging up a four spot in the seventh. Daniel Tucker (Hendersonville, Tenn.) got things started with a one-out walk and scored the first run on Sanford’s RBI single to left. From there, Thompson – who reached on a single following Tucker’s walk – came home on a wild pitch and Cook drove in the final two runs with a two-out double to left center, making it a 6-4 game.
Unfortunately, the Blue and Gold couldn’t finish the comeback as UNCG led off the eighth and ninth innings with home runs, extending its lead to, 8-4.
York’s two-out, two-run blast to left pulled the Bucs within two in the bottom of the ninth, but Bryant Stafford forced Kevin Phillips (St. Louis, Mo.) into an game-ending ground out.
The Spartans had six players finish with at least two hits, while Tyler Long paced UNCG with a four-hit night. Long went 4 for 5 with a triple and scored two runs, and King, Kusz and Zac MacAneney recorded the solo homers in the winning effort.
ETSU will look to snap its six-game losing skid and even the series on Saturday. First pitch is set for 2:05 p.m.
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