Total team effort lifts Bucs to series win at USC Upstate, 10-4
Total team effort lifts Bucs to series win at USC Upstate, 10-4
Sunday, March 17, 2013

Three-run fifth fuels offensive spark for Blue and Gold

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (March 17, 2013) – The ETSU baseball team scored at least one run from the fifth inning on and used a total team effort to win the series over USC Upstate, as the Bucs defeated the Spartans, 10-4, on Sunday afternoon at Harley Park.

Junior Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.) earned the win (4-0) by tossing seven strong innings in his first start of the season, while the Buccaneer offense generated 14 hits as six different players finished with two-hit days – including Freeman. Joining the two-way star with a multi-hit game were Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.), Derek Niesman (Wellington, Fla.), Alex Reynolds (Johnson City, Tenn.), Kevin Phillips (St. Louis, Mo.) and Mason Hershey (Altoona, Pa.). 

With the game tied at one heading into the fifth, ETSU began its offensive surge with a three-run inning and never looked back from there as the Bucs improved to 12-5, 2-1 in A-Sun play following the victory.

For the weekend, ETSU hit .315 (34-108) with seven doubles, one triple, and two home runs at the plate, while the Buccaneer pitching staff held USC Upstate (11-7, 1-2) – who entered the weekend as one of the top offenses in the conference – to 10 runs.

Just as they did yesterday, the Spartans jumped out to the early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Brandon Patterson’s two-out double to right-center plated Tyler Lesch, but Freeman left two USC Upstate runners stranded by striking out Erik Samples to end the frame.

After Freeman surrendered his first run of the season in the first, the talented two-way player helped his cause in the third to pull ETSU even at one. Taylor – who hit .429 with two doubles and four runs scored on the weekend – continued swinging his hot bat as he led off the inning with a double to left, and after Dylan Tritsch (Boca Raton, Fla.) moved him over to third on a sac-bunt, Freeman brought in the freshman speedster with a sacrifice fly to left.

USC Upstate threatened in the bottom half of the inning as Jordan Stampler led things off with a double to right and trotted to third on Gaither Bumgardner’s sac-bunt; however, Stampler was gunned down at the plate by Reynolds as he tried to score on Lesch’s grounder to third. Following a stolen base by Lesch, Freeman induced Patterson into an inning-ending grounder to short, keeping the game tied at one.

ETSU missed its chance to break things open as the Blue and Gold loaded the bases with one out in the fourth, but Reid Noah kept the game knotted at one by striking out Hershey looking and forced Taylor to hit into a fielder’s choice grounder to third.

From there, the Blue and Gold responded by not coming through in the fourth, as ETSU began its offensive explosion with the three-run fifth and the Bucs took the lead for good.

The big inning began when Freeman and Andrew Green (Powell, Tenn.) worked a pair of one-out walks, which led to Niesman reaching on a fielding error by Brody Greer at short – giving Freeman the opportunity to score on the play. Then, with one out and runners on the corners, Chris Riopedre (Miami, Fla.) was called upon to lay down a squeeze bunt, and the sophomore shortstop executed the play to perfection – leading to Green coming home to make it a 3-1 contest. Phillips finished off the scoring when his single through the right side brought in Niesman to extend ETSU’s advantage to four. 

Green added to the Buccaneer lead in the top of the sixth when his two-out single to left-center scored Tritsch, while Reynolds and Hershey provided RBI singles an inning later to make it a 7-1 game.

However, the Spartans answered with three of their own in the bottom of the frame, but ETSU got those runs back by scoring one in the eighth and added two additional insurance runs in the ninth. Riopedre provided the RBI in the eighth as he doubled home Freeman, while Hershey led off the ninth with his first triple in a Buccaneer uniform and scored on Taylor’s second double of the afternoon. Taylor fittingly scored the final run when Freeman’s eighth double of the season gave ETSU the six-run cushion.

Junior right-hander Will Chesney (Knoxville, Tenn.) shut down the Spartan offense in the eighth and ninth by tossing two innings of one-hit ball in relief.

Following his two-hit game, Freeman extended a pair of streaks as the Jonesborough, Tenn. native has now reached base safely in 20 straight games and also recorded a hit in 10 straight contests. Meanwhile, Hershey and Green have hit safely in their last eight games, and Niesman – who registered his fourth multi-hit game of the season on Sunday – moved his hitting streak to seven straight.

USC Upstate sent nine different pitchers to the mound on Sunday and Chris Knauff suffered the loss (0-1) after being tagged for two unearned runs and two walks. At the plate, the Spartans tallied eight hits, with Stampler, Lesch, and Miller all finishing with two hits.

The Bucs wrap up their five-game road swing on Wednesday night when ETSU travels to Rock Hill, S.C., for a midweek game at Winthrop. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.

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