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Johnson City, Tenn. -- The East Tennessee State baseball team pounded out 16 runs on 21 hits to defeat visiting Eastern Kentucky, 16-7, in the first game of a two-game series at Cardinal Park.
The Bucs 3-4-5 hitters were a combined 9-13 with eight runs scored and six RBIs on the afternoon. Third baseman Andy Baxter went 3-5 -- including his team-leading sixth home run -- with two runs and two RBIs. Rightfielder Nathan Copeland went 3-4 with three runs scored and two RBIs while designated hitter Brandon Cross was 3-4 with three runs scored and two RBIs.
Buccaneer freshman Donnie Sharp hurled his second straight impressive outing, allowing seven runs (four earned) in 7.2 innings. The Oak Ridge, Tenn. native, struck out six without walking a batter. Sharp was the tough-luck loser on March 6 when he threw a complete game five-hitter in a 1-0 loss at Tennessee Tech.
The visitors began the game with a run in the top of the first. First baseman Aaron Williams took first base after being beaned and later scored on an RBI groundout by Mike Schneider. ETSU tied the game in the home half of the first. Leadoff hitter Jeremy Terry singled, moved around to third, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Copeland.
Back-to-back doubles by Ryan Hyder and Chad Boruff in the second gave ETSU a 2-1 lead. The Colonels responded with two in the third to take a 3-2 lead. Josh Anderson led off the frame with a single and came home on a triple by Chris Grynaviski. The second baseman scored when the next batter, Aaron Williams, grounded out.
The Bucs took a 6-3 lead with a four-run, six-hit third inning. The first four batters got hits, highlighted by a two-run homer from Baxter. Copeland and Kirk Keithley recorded doubles in the inning. Eastern Kentuckys Adam Crowder belted a solo shot in the fourth to close the gap to 6-4.
The Bucs loaded the bases in the sixth with a Copeland single and two walks. A lazer hit up the middle by Cross was stabbed by the shortstop but EKUs Robby Price couldnt prevent two runs from scoring. Later in the inning, ETSU catcher Scott Rose belted his fifth home run of the season -- a grand slam -- to give the Bucs a 12-4 lead after six innings.
East Tennessee State scored two more in the seventh to lead 14-4. Copeland looped a home run that skimmed the right field wall, followed by an RBI triple from Tim Turner. Turner was the final Buc starter to notch a base hit.
The Colonels responded with a three-run eighth to make the score 14-7. Grynaviski led off the frame with a single and later scored on an error. Price, who had reached on the error, scored on a two-run dinger from senior Gabe Thomas.
ETSU pinchhitter Ryan McKinney belted a two-run home run in the eighth to complete the scoring. It was McKinneys first homer of the season and the Bucs fourth round-tripper of the game.
The Bucs and Colonels will conclude their series at 3 p.m. on Thursday, March 15.