JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Apr. 15, 2012) – Trailing by seven runs through five innings of play, the ETSU baseball team mounted a rally that came up just a little short as USC Upstate hung on for a 9-7 victory in the series finale on Sunday at Thomas Stadium.
With the win, USC Upstate completes the series sweep as the Spartans improve to 25-12 overall and 10-5 in league play. Meanwhile, ETSU falls to 16-18 and 4-11 in the A-Sun.
The Spartans pounded out 13 hits, which included multi-hit efforts from Gaither Bumgardner, Austin Liput, Greg Guers and Tyler Cook. Guers and Trey Richardson each had two RBI as well for Upstate.
ETSU got a three-hit game from Dylan Pratt (Johnson City, Tenn.) for the second straight game. The Bucs also got a strong effort from another local product as Alex Reynolds (Johnson City, Tenn.) was 1-for-4 with his first career home run and a career-high four RBI. Meanwhile, Zach Thompson (Johnson City, Tenn.) had a multi-hit game as he finished 2-for-5 on the afternoon. Andrew Green (Powell, Tenn.), Kerry Doane (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) and Matthew Scruggs (Knoxville, Tenn.) each had a hit and an RBI. Scruggs belted his fourth homer of the weekend and 16th of the season.
USC Upstate junior Brandon Lee (5-3) picked up the win after allowing 10 hits and seven runs in 7.1 innings of work. Ben Augenstein earned his first save of the year after getting the final five outs of the game. ETSU starter Jake Long (Anderson, S.C.) (2-4) was dealt the loss after allowing 11 hits and seven runs in five innings.
After a scoreless first inning, USC Upstate plated a run in the second on just one hit. Luke Weber got it all started with a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. After moving over to third on a ground out, catcher Brandon Patterson ripped an RBI single into center field to put the Spartans in front 1-0.
The Spartans added on to their lead in the third as they plated three runs on four hits in the inning. USC Upstate got its rally going with two-outs as Bumgardner and Liput recorded back-to-back singles. Then, Weber recorded the third straight single of the inning to drive in Bumgardner from second. With runners on first and second, Guers drilled a two-run double to right field to make the score 4-0.
USC Upstate added a run in the fourth on a two-out RBI single by Jordan Stampler to extend the lead to 5-0. The Spartans went ahead 7-0 after plating two more runs in the fifth.
The Bucs got a lift in the sixth inning as Reynolds blasted a three-run home run to cut the lead to 7-3. With one-out, Pratt singled to center field and Thompson followed with an infield single. Both runners advanced into scoring position as the throw by the first baseman to the pitcher covering the bag was errant. Then, with two-outs in the inning, Reynolds belted the 0-1 pitch from Lee over the right field wall for his first career home run.
USC Upstate extended its lead with two more runs off just one hit in the seventh inning. After a walk, a double and a hit by pitch, Richardson drew a walk to plate a run. The Spartans plated another run in the inning thanks to an ETSU error – making the score 9-3.
ETSU mounted a rally in the eighth after Scruggs led off the inning by launching his league-leading 16th home run of the season. Pratt, Thompson and Riopedre recorded three straight singles to load the bases with no outs. Reynolds recorded his fourth RBI of the day after grounding out to first. After Skyler Barnett (Johnson City, Tenn.) walked to load the bases, the Spartans brought on Jordan Rusk out of the bullpen. Rusk hit Green with the 1-0 pitch, which plated another ETSU run to make the score 9-6. After another Upstate pitching change, Doane recorded his 100th career RBI with a sacrifice fly to deep left field to pull the Bucs within two at 9-7.
After Will Chesney (Knoxville, Tenn.) sat down the Spartans in order in the ninth, the Bucs got a one-out single from Pratt in the bottom half of the inning, but they were unable to get anything else going.
ETSU will be back in action with a pair of road contests during the midweek. The Bucs will travel to Tennessee on Tuesday night before facing Radford on Wednesday. Tuesday’s game is set for 7 p.m., while Wednesday’s first pitch will be at 6 p.m. Both games will be broadcasted live 640 WXSM and online at ETSUBucs.com.
- USC Upstate earned a sweep over ETSU for the first time. Coming into the series, the Bucs had won nine straight against the Spartans.
- The Bucs were swept at home for the first time since April of last year when Jacksonville took all three of the series.
- Clinton Freeman was 1-for-5 on the day and has now reached base in 28 straight games, while also extending his hitting streak to eight.
- Matthew Scruggs has homered in three straight games for the second time this season. He opened the season by hitting a long ball in each game of the series against Eastern Kentucky.
- Alex Reynolds had a career-high four RBI in the game and became the first Buccaneer to record at least four RBI in a game since Scruggs had five against La Salle on March 11.
For more information on ETSU baseball, please visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the baseball link.