JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (April 15, 2015) – Alex Perez accounted for all six of Virginia Tech’s runs and it was his two-out, two-run scoring triple in the top of the ninth that rallied the Hokies to a 6-5 win over ETSU on Wednesday night at Thomas Stadium.
Perez, who went 3 for 4 with the game-winning hit, drove in all six Virginia Tech (18-20) runs as he had a sac-fly RBI in the third, drove in two with a single to right-center in the fifth, tacked on another RBI single in the seventh and plated the winning runs with the triple to right-center in the ninth.
Despite scoring the game’s first run in the second and taking a 5-4 lead into the top of the ninth, ETSU (14-21) couldn’t close things out. Senior right-hander Jimmy Nesselt (Planation, Fla.) struck out two of the three Hokie hitters he faced in the eighth, but allowed a leadoff single to Ryan Tufts in the ninth and issued a one-out walk to Phil Sciretta; however, after striking out Rahiem Cooper for the second out of the inning, Perez delivered the back-breaker as he sent a 2-1 pitch to the gap in right-center for the two-run scoring triple.
Nesselt, who was coming off a win following his 11-strikeout performance in his last start at VMI, suffered the loss (4-4) after being charged with two runs on two hits in two innings, while freshman right-hander Ryan Simpler (Lewes, Del.) faced some tough luck in his start. Simpler allowed three unearned runs on two hits in 4.2 innings.
In total, three of the six runs allowed by the Buccaneer pitching staff were unearned as ETSU’s defense tied a season-high with four errors.
Offensively, the Blue and Gold only totaled five hits and took advantage of two Virginia Tech errors.
ETSU was led by senior Zach Thompson (Johnson City, Tenn.) and junior Trey York (Knoxville, Tenn.). Thompson finished 1 for 2 with one walk, one run and an RBI as he executed a squeeze bunt to perfection to tie the game at three in a two-run sixth inning. The Buccaneer senior outfielder also extended his hit streak to seven straight games following a leadoff double in the second and scored the first run of the night on Christian Bailey’s (Kingsport, Tenn.) RBI ground out. Meanwhile, York extended his streak of reaching base safely to 13 straight games as he went 1 for 3 with two walks and scored on Kevin Phillips’ (St. Louis, Mo.) RBI double in the sixth. Sophomore Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.) registered his 100th career hit with his first-inning single, while it also extend his streak of reaching safely to 19 consecutive games.
The Bucs had chances to increase their lead but ETSU went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position and only recorded one two-out hit.
In the seventh, the Bucs had runners on second and third after Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.) drove in Bailey with a double to right to tie the game at four, but after he moved to third on a wild pitch, York walked and stole second to continue the threat. Unfortunately, Phillips struck out swinging on a 2-2 pitch to end the inning.
An inning later, the Blue and Gold had runners on second and third with one out, and only scratched across one run. Andrew Lasure (Stanford, Ky.) came through with a pinch-hit sacrifice fly RBI to left, which scored Jordan Sanford (Powell, Tenn.) to give ETSU its only lead of the night, 5-4.
Following Perez’s clutch two-out triple in the top of the ninth, York reached on a one-out walk and stole second in the bottom half of the inning, but he was left stranded when Sean Kennedy induced Sanford into a game-ending ground out.
Kennedy (2-4) tossed two scoreless innings out of the bullpen, while starter Packy Naughton allowed four runs (two earned) on five hits while striking out six in 6.2 innings.
Tufts joined Perez with a multi-hit game as he went 2 for 4 with one double and scored two runs, while Logan Bible also scored a pair of runs.
The Bucs continue their five-game homestand as ETSU opens a three-game conference series with Samford on Friday night at 6:05 p.m.
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