JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (April 25, 2015) – After watching junior Griffin Krieg (Nashville, Tenn.) record ETSU’s first complete game of the season in Friday’s opener, senior right-hander Jimmy Nesselt (Plantation, Fla.) was two outs away from a repeat performance.
However, Western Carolina (18-21, 9-8 SoCon) spoiled the show by belting pair of solo home runs in the ninth inning to rally for a 4-3 victory on Saturday afternoon at Thomas Stadium.
The Catamounts, who have hit five homers in the series, scored all their runs via the long ball in game two as Pierce Suttles connected on a two-out, two-run blast to take a 2-0 lead in the fourth, while Matt Smith tied it off Nesselt with a one-out homer to right-center in the ninth and Danny Bermudez won it with a two-out shot off Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.) two plays later.
Despite falling behind following the fourth-inning homer to Suttles – his second of the series – ETSU (15-27, 4-10 SoCon) fought back and pulled even at two when freshman Hagen Owenby (Knoxville, Tenn.) took a 3-0 two-out pitch over the wall in left-center in the sixth and the Buccaneers went ahead 3-2 following extra base-hits by Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.) and Trey York (Knoxville, Tenn.) in the bottom of the eighth. Taylor tripled off the wall in left-center to start the inning and scored on York’s double to left, but the Blue and Gold were unable to plate the insurance run and couldn’t hold on for the series win.
Two of ETSU’s six hits came in the eighth inning as the Blue and Gold were held to one hit for the first five innings on Saturday. Taylor reached twice (triple and walk) to extend his streak of reaching safely to 17 straight games, while Jordan Sanford (Powell, Tenn.) posted the Bucs’ first hit of the afternoon with a single to right in the second inning and has reached in 15 consecutive games. Owenby reached twice as he also worked a walk in the fourth before registering his fifth home run of the season in the sixth.
Nesselt picked up a no-decision after giving ETSU a quality start, while Cook – who pitched for the first time since March 9, 2014 – suffered the loss. Nesselt allowed three runs on nine hits while striking out seven and walking four in a season-high 8.1 innings. Cook (0-1) was charged with the one run on one hit in two-thirds of an inning.
Like Nesselt, Western Carolina starter Bryan Sammons gave his team a quality start but also didn’t factor in the decision as the sophomore southpaw issued three runs on four hits with eight strikeouts and three walks in a season-best seven innings. Senior right-hander Tyler Powell (2-1) allowed the eighth-inning double to York and a ninth-inning pinch-hit single to Aaron Maher (Brentwood, Tenn.) en route to picking up the win.
The Bucs missed scoring chances early as they left a runner stranded at third in the first two innings and finished 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
Nesselt did a great job battling on the mound as he worked out of a handful of jams. The Catamounts had runners in scoring position in the first two innings but did not score, while also missing chances in the fifth and seventh. Nesselt worked around a leadoff walk in the fifth and got around leadoff double in the seventh to keep the game tied at two.
Unfortuantely, ETSU was unable to plate an insurance run following York’s RBI double in the eighth as Powell retired the next two hitters he faced and the Catamounts answered with the two homers, resulting in their first win when trailing after eight innings this season. Western Carolina was a 0-21 prior to the comeback win, while it marked ETSU’s second setback when taking a lead into the ninth inning this year.
Four Catamounts finished with multi-hit games as Western Carolina totaled 10 hits. Smith and Bermudez were joined by Jason Smith and Matthew Koehler with two-hit efforts.
Sunday’s rubber match is set for 1:05 p.m. as freshman right-hander Ryan Simpler (Lewes, Del.) makes his first weekend start for the Bucs and Western Carolina counters with sophomore righty Korey Anderson.
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