Johnson CIty -
Coming off a bumpy road swing, the ETSU baseball team unleashed its frustration on The Citadel Wednesday night at Thomas Stadium.
Despite allowing four first-inning runs, the Bucs settled down as the bullpen held the Bulldogs scoreless for the final eight innings and ETSU plated 12 unanswered runs en route to capturing a 12-4 win over The Citadel.
As a team, the Blue and Gold belted out a season-high 17 hits (nine for extra bases), along with tying a school-record with four triples, while ETSU’s bullpen retired the final 15 hitters to close out the contest. The triples record was previously set back on March 31, 1998 against Radford.
Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.), Tyler Roach (Knoxville, Tenn.), Trey York (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Kevin Phillips (St. Louis, Mo.) contributed to the record-tying performance, while junior right-hander Jimmy Nesselt (Plantation, Fla.) reached a personal milestone by registering his 100th strikeout in the fifth inning. Nesselt began the stretch of retiring 15 straight batters by fanning two of the three Bulldog hitters, and Jared Burton (Knoxville, Tenn.), Will Chesney (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Clinton Freeman ( Jonesborough, Tenn.) followed suit.
Dylan Tritsch (Boca Raton, Fla.) and Roach paced the Blue and Gold offense with three hits each, while all nine starters finished with at least one hit. Tritsch extended his streak of reaching base safely to 19 consecutive games after going 3 for 4 with one double, one home run and scored four runs. Roach also went 3 for 4 with two runs, two RBI and posted his first triple as a Buccaneer. Phillips also recorded his first triple in an ETSU uniform and went 2 for 5 with three RBI. Joining Phillips with two-hit games were Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.), Gage Downey (Franklin, Tenn.) and York.
After Logan Rice (Erwin, Tenn.) started the game by issuing four runs (three earned) on four hits in his only inning of action, the Buccaneer bullpen held The Citadel to only four hits the remainder of the night as sophomore southpaw Josh Jacques (Rollinsford, N.H.) earned the win (2-3). Jacques allowed two hits in 1.1 innings of work, while Jamin McCann (Kingsport, Tenn.) and Derek Bushey (Richmond, Va.) also made scoreless appearances out of the pen.
As a staff, the Bucs have now went back-to-back games without allowing a walk, which is the first time since 2011 ETSU’s pitching staff has accomplished the feat.
With the win, ETSU snapped its four-game skid and improved to 15-17, while The Citadel has dropped its last four games and dipped to 13-21. In addition, head coach Tony Skole picked up his first win over his alma mater since Feb. 10, 2007.
Things got off to a shaky start for ETSU as the Bucs surrendered the four first-inning runs and The Citadel led 4-0 before the Blue and Gold stepped to the plate.
However, ETSU answered the challenge and took the bite of the Bulldogs for the rest of the night.
The Bucs responded with a three runs in the bottom of the inning and pulled within a run of The Citadel, 4-3. Taylor led off the inning with a double down the line in left and trotted home on Chris Riopedre’s (Miami, Fla.) two-out, two-run home run to left. The two-out hitting continued when Tritsch kept his streak alive by beating out an infield single – and after stealing second – the Buccaneer outfielder sprinted home on Roach’s RBI single up the middle.
After combining for seven first-inning runs, both teams were held scoreless until ETSU jumped ahead for good in the bottom of the fourth. The Bucs led off the inning with three straight extra base-hits as York and Phillips posted back-to-back triples, and Downey followed up with an RBI double to left-center, giving the Blue and Gold a 5-4 advantage.
The one-run lead was all the Bucs needed as ETSU’s bullpen held The Citadel without a hit for the final five innings of play.
For good measure, the Buccaneer offense plated a run in the fifth and sixth, while tacking on three in the seventh and two more in the eighth to finish off the rally.
Phillips drove in his second run of the night with a two-out single in the fifth, while Cook registered the Bucs’ third triple and scored on Freeman’s RBI single to center, pushing ETSU’s lead to, 7-4.
From there, the Bucs began the seventh inning with leadoff double by Tritsch and he scored with ease when Roach tallied the fourth triple when he split the gap in right-center. Roach later came home on an RBI groundout by Phillips, and Taylor capped off the scoring when his single to left-center plated York – who was earlier hit by pitch.
Tritsch blasted his second home run with a solo shot to left-center in the eighth, while Downey’s RBI single to center finished the offensive output for the Blue and Gold.
Brett Tompkins suffered the loss (1-2) for the Bulldogs as he allowed two runs on three hits in two innings of work. At the plate, Johnathan Stokes drove in two of the four runs with a single in the first, while Drew DeKerlegand and Ryan Kilgallen had the other RBI hits.
The Blue and Gold return to action Friday night when ETSU opens a three-game Atlantic Sun series with North Florida. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. at Thomas Stadium.