JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 18, 2017) – The ETSU baseball team attempted a late rally in the ninth, but the Bucs couldn’t muster up a game-tying run to fall 8-7 to Central Michigan in game two of the 2017 opening series on Saturday at Thomas Stadium.
Leadoff hitter for ETSU, Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.), has recorded back-to-back games with multiple hits as the red-shirt junior tallied three hits on Saturday. He has also smacked two home runs in the first two games of the season to lead the Buccaneer squad. Blake Rowlett (Clarksville, Tenn.) and Hunter Parker (Chattanooga, Tenn.) each jumped in on the action as the duo connected with a pair of hits including a two run homer from Rowlett that tied the game in the third inning. Christian Bailey (Kingsport, Tenn.) contributed to the offensive surge as he smoked a leadoff double in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Getting his first start of the year, Jamin McCann (Kingsport, Tenn.) tossed six innings while striking out four. In his last two starts for ETSU dating back to last season, the Kingsport, Tenn. native has struck out 14 batters. Pitching in back-to-back games, Peyton Taylor (Kingsport, Tenn.) was successful as he struck out two in 2.1 innings.
With the loss, the Bucs drop to 1-1 on the year, and Central Michigan moves to 1-1.
First and Second Innings
The Chippewas set the tone of the game early as they plated a run in each inning. Jason Sullivan reached on a fielder’s choice, which scored Alex Borglin from third base. In the second frame, David Cole smoked a ball up the middle to take the early 2-0 lead.
Cook connected with his first hit of the day as he outhustled an infield hit in the inning. Following him, Rowlett hit a tailing opposite field home run to left to tie the game up at 2-2. Last year, Rowlett hit eight home runs with his most recent coming at Wofford in May 2016.
Nick Stokowski opened the two run inning for Central Michigan as he split the right-center field gap. Following an intentional walk, Robert Greenman crushed a double to dead center and plated two runs for CMU.
The Blue and Gold retaliated in the bottom of the inning as Bailey roped a leadoff double to right center. Following a walk and both runners advancing a base on a ground out, Seth Cunningham (Bristol, Va.) nearly out-hustled an infield knock, but he was still able to plate a run. Parker beat out an infield hit to short, and the hit scored the second run of the inning to tie the game for a second time at 4-4.
Fifth and Sixth Innings
McCann really settled down in the fifth and sixth innings as he faced only seven batters in the two innings. In the two frames, the senior recorded three of his four strikeouts including a pair looking in the sixth.
ETSU was held scoreless in the fifth, but the team took its first lead of the day as the Bucs plated three in the sixth. Recording all three runs in the frame was Cook when he smacked his second home run of the season. Caleb Longley (Cleveland, Tenn.) drew a walk with one out, and Parker singled to right to put two runners on. Cook received an inside pitch, and he drove the ball over the left field fence and off the scoreboard. After the three run bomb, the Bucs found themselves leading 7-4.
Even after surrendering the lead for the first time, Central Michigan regained the lead as the Chippewas scored four in the inning. CMU sent eight players to the plate, which resulted in three at-bats that scored at least one run. The Chippewas recorded four hits in the inning. A pair of the hits was RBI singles, and one was an RBI double to center.
The Blue and Gold put pressure on the team from Michigan as Cullen Smith (Lebanon, Tenn.) led off the inning with a line drive up the middle. He was able to advance to third after a sacrifice bunt and a groundout, but the Lebanon, Tenn. native was stranded 90 feet away from home as Parker hit a hard ball right back at the pitcher for the final out.
Central Michigan tried to pad its lead in the final inning, but Taylor was dominant as he went 1-2-3 with a pair of groundouts and a fly out.
With the top of the lineup due for the Bucs, CMU sent out its closer in a save situation. Cook led off the frame with his third hit of the afternoon. Rowlett followed him with a single of his own to put two runners on with no outs. With the Home Run Derby champion at the plate, CMU pitched to him carefully. Owenby was able to barrel a pitch, but the ball lined straight to the shortstop, where he was able to double off Cook at second base. Aaron Maher (Brentwood, Tenn.) came up with a runner on and two outs, but even with five hits in the first two games, he could not scored the game-tying run.
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