GREENVILLE, S.C. (May 2, 2015) – Despite holding a six-run lead in the fifth and leading by one with one out in the bottom of the ninth, the ETSU baseball team couldn’t hold on to force a rubber match with Furman.
The Paladins scored an unearned run to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth and Sky Overton’s walk-off single rallied Furman to a 10-9, 10-inning series-clinching win over the Buccaneers on Saturday afternoon at Latham Stadium.
ETSU, who had four players register multi-hit games, out-hit the Paladins, 14-13, but the Buccaneers left 11 runners stranded and committed a critical error in the bottom of the ninth to prolong the inning.
Senior Jordan Sanford (Powell, Tenn.) extended his streak of reaching base to 19 consecutive games after tying a career high with four hits and drove in two runs, while juniors Kevin Phillips (St. Louis, Mo.) and Trey York (Knoxville, Tenn.) both totaled three hits and combined to score five of the nine runs. Freshman Hagen Owenby (Knoxville, Tenn.) ended with a pair of singles and drove in three runs, while junior Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.) kept his streak of reaching base safely alive after his bunt single in the fifth inning. Taylor has reached base in 21 straight games. Sophomore Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.), who allowed one unearned run in a career-high 3.1 innings, reached base three times (two walks and a single), scored two runs and had one RBI.
The Buccaneer pitching staff registered six strikeouts in the setback and set a new single-season record for punch-outs with 360, topping the previous record of 358 set in 1995. Senior right-hander Jimmy Nesselt (Plantation, Fla.) struck out three, but allowed seven runs on seven hits in 4.1 innings, while junior southpaw Josh Jacques (Rollinsford, N.H.) struck out two en route to getting out of a bases loaded jam in the fifth and Cook carded the other strikeout. Freshman Logan Gentry (Kingsport, Tenn.) suffered the loss (0-2) after allowing a one-out triple to Jake Jones followed by the walk-off single in the 10th.
Following the walk-off loss, ETSU dipped to 17-29, 5-12 in SoCon play, while Furman won its third straight game, improving to 22-24, 9-8.
For the third straight game ETSU scratched across runs in the first inning as the Blue and Gold recorded four consecutive two-out singles to take a 2-0 lead after a half-inning of play. Phillips began the two-out hit parade as he reached on an infield single, while York followed suit with a hit through the left side. Phillips then scored on Owenby’s single up the middle and York came home on Sanford’s base hit to center, giving Nesselt a two-run cushion the mound.
The lead quickly evaporated as Chris Ohmstede connected on a two-out, two-run home run to left-center, pulling Furman even at two in the bottom of the inning.
However, ETSU scored two runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings to regain an 8-2 advantage.
In the third, ETSU got three straight one-out singles, including an RBI base knock from Owenby to score Phillips from second, while York later trotted in as Christian Bailey (Kingsport, Tenn.) worked a bases loaded walk. An inning later, Owenby drove in his third run of the afternoon when his fielder’s choice RBI plated Cook – who reached on single to center – and Sanford’s third hit of the contest drove in Phillips after he worked a walk earlier in the frame. The Blue and Gold then loaded the bases in the fifth as Bailey led off with a walk, Daniel Tucker (Hendersonville, Tenn.) was hit by a pitch and Taylor reached on a bunt single. Bailey and Tucker both scored on sacrifice flies by Cook and Phillips, giving ETSU a six-run lead.
Again, things turned in a hurry as the Paladins scored five runs on four hits in the bottom of the fifth and tied the game at eight on Overton’s first collegiate home run in the sixth. Jacques did an excellent job getting out of a one-out bases loaded jam in the fifth as he struck out the only two Furman hitters he faced, but the southpaw surrendered the solo home run an inning later.
After both teams were held scoreless in the seventh, the Bucs jumped back ahead, 9-8, in the top of the eighth as Cook led off with a walk and scored on York’s team-leading sixth triple of the season. York was left stranded at third as Owenby struck out swinging and Sanford flied out to center.
Furman never backed down and took advantage of a fielding error by York in the bottom of the ninth and tied the game at nine on an unearned run. With one out and a runner on first, Cook induced Blake Chisolm into a chopper to second, but instead of turning a 4-6-3 game-ending double play, York was charged with an error – placing runners on the corners with one out. Cameron Whitehead followed up with a sac-fly to left on the next at-bat to tie things up, but Cook was able to get out of the inning by forcing Sims Griffith to tap into an inning-ending fielder’s choice.
The Bucs threatened in the top of the 10th as Cook reached on a one-out walk and moved to second on Phillips single to left; however, York struck out swinging and Owenby grounded into an inning-ending fielder’s choice.
The bottom of the 10th started well as Sanford made an outstanding catch in left to rob Carter Grote of extra bases, but Cook’s day was done after that pitch and the Paladins greeted Gentry with back-to-back hits to pull off the comeback win. Jones ripped a triple to the gap in right-center and touched home on Overton’s walk-off single to center.
Elliott Warford retired two of the three hitters he faced to earn the win (4-2), while Will Dvorak kept the Paladins in it by recording two hitless innings in relief.
Jones and Ryan Morse paced Furman’s offense as they finished with three hits each, while Overton and Ohmstede accounted for five of the 10 RBI.
The Blue and Gold will look to salvage a win in Sunday’s series finale, which is set for 1 p.m.
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