JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (April 24, 2015) – Griffin Krieg’s (Nashville, Tenn.) birthday present came a few hours early.
The ETSU junior right-hander, who turns 21 on Saturday, tossed his first collegiate complete game and lifted the Buccaneers to a 3-2 series-opening win over Western Carolina on Friday night at Thomas Stadium.
The complete game gem was the first by a Buccaneer pitcher this season as Krieg (2-5) tossed 112 pitches and held Western Carolina to the two runs on five hits and struck out five, marking his first win since defeating USC Upstate on Feb. 22 in Spartanburg. Krieg’s previous longest outing was 8.1 innings back on March 22, 2013 against Florida Gulf Coast.
Despite ETSU’s offense being held to a season-low two hits, the Blue and Gold manufactured three runs – two coming in the bottom of the seventh inning without the Bucs recording a hit. Jordan Sanford (Powell, Tenn.) scored from third on a wild pitch and Andrew Lasure (Stanford, Ky.) came around to touch the dish on a throwing error by catcher Danny Bermudez.
Sanford and Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.) – who was warming up in ETSU’s pen in the bottom of the eighth for a save opportunity – accounted for the two singles, while Western Carolina’s pitchers combined for six walks and hit Trey York (Knoxville, Tenn.). Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.) reached via two walks and scored the game’s first run on York’s RBI ground out in the first inning.
With the win, the Bucs snapped their seven-game losing streak and improved to 15-26, 4-9 in SoCon play, while the Catamounts dropped to 17-21, 8-8.
Western Carolina starter B.J. Nobles suffered the loss (4-2) as he was charged with three runs (two earned) on two hits in 6.1 innings. The sophomore right-hander entered the game allowing the fewest runs among SoCon starting pitchers with 20, but walked five and struck out four.
ETSU used small ball to plate the first run of the night as Taylor battled off 10 pitches before earning a walk to leadoff the bottom of the first, stole second and moved to third on fly out by Cook before sprinting home on York’s RBI grounder to short.
The Bucs, who left runners in scoring position in the second and fourth innings, were held scoreless until a wild seventh inning.
The Catamounts tied the game at one when Jason Smith led off the top of the third by belting his second home run of the season, but Krieg battled back and kept Western Carolina off the board before surrendering another solo homer in the eighth.
Krieg worked out of a jam in the sixth as he issued a leadoff double to Brett Pope but he was left stranded as Sanford made a tough catch in left for the first out of the inning, while Cook made a solid defensive play at short to get Matt Smith for the second out of the frame. With the go-ahead run standing 90 feet away from the plate, Taylor tracked down a deep fly ball in center to get Bermudez for the final out of the inning, keeping it a 1-1 game.
The Blue and Gold finally answered in the bottom of the seventh as Sanford led off with a single to center – and after Danny Carrier (Cincinnati, Ohio) failed to lay down a sacrifice bunt – Sanford moved to second on a wild pitch. ETSU eventually loaded the bases when Lasure reached on a fielder’s choice and Taylor earned his second walk of the night to set up the wacky scoring scenario following a Western Carolina pitching change. After Dylan Biumi relieved Taylor Durand, the freshman right-hander got ahead of Cook 0-2, but his third pitch was in the turf, allowing Sanford to score on the wild pitch, while Lasure came home when Bermudez’s throw to the plate was offline, making it a 3-1 score.
Western Carolina pulled within a run on Pierce Suttles’ one-out pinch-hit home run to left in the eighth, but Krieg retired the final five Catamount hitters to secure the win.
Pope registered two of Western Carolina’s five hits in the losing effort.
The Bucs will go for the series win on Saturday at 2:05 p.m., as senior right-hander Jimmy Nesselt (Plantation, Fla.) gets the start for ETSU, while the Catamounts counter with sophomore left-hander Bryan Sammons. Nesselt was the last Buccaneer hurler to pitch a complete game as he accomplished the feat last May 15 in a series-win over Mercer.
ETSU fans wanting to receive Buccaneer news, score updates, in-game promotions and much more sent to their mobile device can do so by signing up for “Buc Updates.” Click here to sign up today!
For more information on Buccaneer baseball, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the baseball page.