ST. LOUIS, Mo. (April 2, 2015) – The ETSU baseball team scored eight fourth-inning runs, but it wasn’t enough to lift the Blue and Gold past Saint Louis as Luke Sommerfeld held the Bucs scoreless for the final five innings, and the Billikens held on for a 10-8 win in the series opener on Thursday night at the Billiken Sports Complex.
Saint Louis (19-10) did its damage early as the Billkens scored nine runs in the first three innings before the Bucs mounted their rally; however, the reigning Atlantic 10 regular season champion plated an unearned run in the bottom of the fifth to capture the two-run win.
Senior right-hander Jimmy Nesselt (Plantation, Fla.) suffered his third straight loss (3-3) as he was charged with nine runs on 11 hits in 2.2 innings, while ETSU’s bullpen kept the Bucs in the contest by allowing the lone unearned run in the final 5.1 frames. Sophomore left-hander Jamin McCann (Kingsport, Tenn.) allowed the run on one hit in two innings of relief and freshman righty Kain Hewitt (Gainesville, Ga.) held the Billikens scoreless for the final three innings.
The Bucs (12-16) posted their eight hits in the fourth inning, while sending 13 batters to the plate in the frame, but after chasing starter Clay Smith -- who entered the night 5-0 with a 2.08 ERA on the season -- ETSU couldn’t get anything going against Sommerfeld.
Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.) and Trey York (Knoxville, Tenn.) combined for four of the eight hits, while freshman Aaron Maher (Brentwood, Tenn.) drove in two of the eight runs. Cook extended his hit streak to 12 straight games after going 2 for 5 with two runs and an RBI, and York was 2 for 5 with one run and one RBI. Junior Kevin Phillips (St. Louis, Mo.), who was making his homecoming, went 1 for 4 with a run and a walk to extend his streak of reaching base to 22 consecutive games.
After sitting through a 40-minute rain delay, the Billikens came out firing on all cylinders as Saint Louis scored five first-inning runs, while plating one in the second and three more in the third to go ahead, 9-0. Jake Henson and Josh Bunselmeyer ignited the surge in the first as Henson belted a three-run homer to left and Bunselmeyer followed with a solo shot, making it a 5-0 score. The Billikens got a fielder’s choice RBI in the second, while Danny Mannion, Alex King and Michael Bozarth drove in the runs in the third to take the nine-run lead.
However, after Smith retired the first nine ETSU hitters he faced, the Bucs finally got to the right-hander in the fourth by plating eight runs on seven hits to make it a one-run deficit, 9-8. The first three Buccaneer batters reached to start the rally as Cook, York and Phillips all reached via singles and Maher drove in the first two runs with a single to center. From there, Phillips came home on an RBI single by Jordan Sanford (Powell, Tenn.) and Zach Thompson (Johnson City, Tenn.) continued the hit parade with an RBI single to right. The Blue and Gold loaded the bases after Daniel Tucker (Hendersonville, Tenn.) worked a walk and Jeremy Taylor’s (Fayetteville, Ga.) sacrifice fly to center plated Sanford for the fifth run of the inning. Cook, who led things off, came back up with his second hit of the frame when his single to right-center brought home Thompson and Tucker touched the dish on York’s single up the middle. Cook scored the eighth and final run on a wild pitch by Sommerfeld – and after Phillips earned a walk – the Billikens got out of the inning by inducing Hagen Owenby (Knoxville, Tenn.) into a ground out to second.
Unfortunately, after pushing across the most runs in an inning all season, ETSU couldn’t keep momentum on its side as the Billikens scored on a throwing error by Owenby in the fifth, extending the Saint Louis lead to, 10-8. With two outs, a pair of Billiken hitters reached on consecutive walks by McCann, and Bozarth -- who reached on the first walk -- scored when Owenby airmailed the throw to second as the Billiken outfielder attempted a steal on the ball-four pitch to Colton Frabasilio.
The Bucs missed a scoring opportunity in the sixth as Tucker led off the inning with a walk and ETSU looked to have had runners on first and second with no outs following a bunt by Taylor. Taylor, who laid down a bunt to first, forced the ball to come loose from Sommerfeld’s glove; however, the Buccaneer outfielder was tagged out after the first base umpire said Taylor didn’t touch the bag. Following the miscue, Cook struck out and Tucker moved to third on a wild pitch, but he was left stranded when York hit into an inning-ending fly out.
Sommerfeld (1-0) regrouped after the sixth as he retired nine of the final 10 Buccaneer hitters to close out the win.
As a team, Saint Louis registered 15 hits and was led by Henson’s three-hit, three-RBI night.
The Blue and Gold look to even the series Friday night as first pitch is set for 7 p.m. (ET) at the Billken Sports Complex.
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