LEXINGTON, Va. (April 10, 2015) – Kevin Phillips (St. Louis, Mo.), Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.) and Hagen Owenby (Knoxville, Tenn.) all belted home runs, while junior right-hander Lee Haeberle (Hendersonville, Tenn.) allowed one run in 5.2 innings as ETSU earned an 8-4 series-opening win over VMI on Friday night at Gray-Minor Stadium.
Phillips ripped a pair of home runs – a solo shot in the second and a two-run blast in the sixth – marking the first time in his career he has recorded two home runs in one game, while he and Trey York (Knoxville, Tenn.) are two Buccaneer sluggers to accomplish the feat this season. Cook and Owenby registered their solo bombs in the seventh, and Haeberle (3-5) snapped a five-game losing skid after allowing one run on five hits and striking out five in 5.2 innings.
As a team, six Buccaneers accounted for their nine hits, while Cook, Phillips and Zach Thompson (Johnson City, Tenn.) all finished with multi-hit games. Cook extended his streak of reaching base safely to 15 straight games after going 2 for 5 with two runs, while Phillips scored two runs and drove in three after pushing his home run total to a team-leading nine. Thompson went 2 for 4 and Owenby reached base four times – two hit by pitches, one walk and the home run.
ETSU (13-19, 2-5 SoCon) snapped its five-game losing streak and the Buccaneers picked up their second straight conference win, while VMI (9-18, 4-6 SoCon) suffered its second straight setback.
The Buccaneers plated the first run of the game when Phillips belted a home run to lead off the second inning, and with Haeberle hanging goose eggs, ETSU added to its lead by pushing across an unearned run in the fourth to go ahead, 2-0. York, who was hit by a pitch to start the frame, moved into scoring position by stealing second and advanced to third on a throwing error by catcher Matt Winn on the play. From there, York sprinted home on Aaron Maher’s (Brentwood, Tenn.) sacrifice fly RBI to center, giving Haeberle a two-run cushion.
Haeberle, who retired 15 of the first 19 VMI hitters he faced, received more offense in the sixth as ETSU scored four runs on four hits and extended its lead to, 6-0. Phillips continued swinging his hot bat as he belted a two-run home run to left and Maher drove in Owenby with his first collegiate triple. Maher later scored when Jordan Sanford (Powell, Tenn.) reached on a fielding error by third baseman David Geary, but VMI reliever Jack Gomersall worked out of a jam to keep it a six-run game.
VMI broke up the Bucs’ shutout bid when Jordan Tarsovich led off the bottom of the sixth with a double and scored on Geary’s one-out double to left, but Ryan Simpler (Lewes, Del.) came out of the pen to keep the Keydet runner stranded at second by inducing Brandon Angus into an inning-ending fly out to right.
The Blue and Gold responded in the top of the seventh when Cook and Owenby connected on solo home runs, but Winn led off the bottom half of the inning with a homer to left, making it an 8-2 game.
VMI tacked on two runs eighth-inning runs, and after red-shirt freshman Dillon Cate (Sevierville, Tenn.) loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth, the Buccaneer right-hander closed out the game as Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.) made the game-winning catch on the warning track in center field.
VMI starter Austin Heenan (0-4) suffered his fourth straight losing decision as he was tagged for six runs (five earned) on six hits in 5.1 innings.
Will Connerley led the Keydets with three hits and Geary went 2 for 5 with one double, one run and an RBI.
The Bucs look to win their first SoCon series of the year on Saturday as game two of the three game set is slated for 4 p.m.
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