LEXINGTON, Va. (April 12, 2015) – ETSU junior right-hander Griffin Krieg (Nashville, Tenn.) recorded a career-high 10 strikeouts, but the Buccaneers were unable to cap off the series sweep as VMI belted three home runs and defeated the Blue and Gold, 5-4, on Sunday afternoon at Gray-Minor Stadium.
Despite pulling even at two in the top of the fifth, ETSU (14-20, 3-6 SoCon) could never take the lead as Collin Fleischer’s solo homer in the bottom of the inning put VMI (10-19, 5-7 SoCon) back ahead, while David Geary’s two-run shot in the bottom of the eighth drove in the eventual game-winning runs.
ETSU rallied in the ninth as Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.), Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.) and Trey York (Knoxville, Tenn.) all registered one-out doubles to inch within a run, but VMI closer Taylor Edens kept the tying run at second by forcing Kevin Phillips (St. Louis, Mo.) to line out to center and inducing Aaron Maher (Brentwood, Tenn.) to tap into a game-ending grounder to short.
The Bucs managed to out-hit the Keydets, 10-9, as York led the way with three hits (two doubles) and drove in one of the two ninth-inning runs. Senior Jordan Sanford (Powell, Tenn.) reached base three times (two singles and a walk), while Cook – who has reached safely in 18 straight games – went 1 for 4 with a hit by pitch, scored two runs and drove in one. Taylor also scored two runs and reached twice on the day – one double and a walk.
Krieg (1-4) gave the Bucs a quality start as he allowed three runs on six hits, while striking out 10 and walking two in seven innings of work, but it was the two-run home run allowed by sophomore Jamin McCann (Kingsport, Tenn.) that proved to be the difference maker.
VMI, like they did on Saturday, scored the first runs of the game as they scratched across a run in the first and Matt Winn’s solo home run in the second put the Keydets ahead, 2-0.
The Bucs, who left the bases loaded in the second and had runners in scoring position in the fourth, finally got on the board in the fifth as ETSU plated a pair of runs to tie the game at two. Taylor walked to start the inning and Cook was hit by a pitch, while the Blue and Gold later loaded the bases after York reached on a fielder’s choice. Taylor scored the first run on a wild pitch and Cook crossed the dish on Phillips’ RBI ground out to short, but after pulling even at two, the Bucs were unable to score York from third. VMI starter Jonathan Kelley forced Maher to pop out to short – and after making a call to the bullpen – Jack Gomersall walked Sanford, but struck out Danny Carrier (Cincinnati, Ohio) swinging to end the inning.
The Keydets quickly responded as Fleischer connected on a one-out solo home run in the bottom of the fifth, but Krieg worked out of trouble as he got Tyler Tharp out swinging for his eighth strikeout, keeping it a 3-2 game as VMI left runners on the corners.
Kyle Staats and Edens combined to retire nine of the next 10 ETSU hitters following the two-run fifth and Geary came through with the clutch two-run homer in the eighth, extending the Keydets advantage to three, 5-2.
After having its bats silenced in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, the Bucs rallied in the ninth with the three straight doubles, but Edens settled down to earn his seventh save.
Gomersall earned his first win of the year (1-0) after finishing with one walk and one strikeout in one-third of an inning out of the pen.
Geary’s home run was his lone hit of the day as he went 1 for 4 with two RBI, and Jordan Tarsovich and Drew Bryan both finished with two-hit games.
The Bucs now return home where they will play nine of their next 10 at Thomas Stadium, beginning Tuesday night when ETSU hosts Appalachian State at 6:05 p.m.
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