JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (April 25, 2003) - East Tennessee State freshman Jordan Abromovitz (South Park, Pa.) said it was the biggest hit of his college career. For the Buccaneers, it was certainly one of the most important hits of their season.
The 5-foot-8, 170-pound right fielder hit a grand slam home run off Davidson starter Andy Carter in the bottom of the sixth inning Friday night at Howard Johnson Field, highlighting the Buccaneers 7-5 victory over the Wildcats in the first game of a three-game Southern Conference baseball series this weekend.
"That was probably the biggest hit of my college career," Abromovitz said. "It was a 3-2 count and I was sitting fastball. He threw it a bit outside, but really I was just trying to make contact. Normally, the wind blows out to right field here, but tonight I noticed it was blowing out to left field. That was a good thing."
Trailing 5-3 in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Bucs (12-26 overall, 8-13 in SoCon play) loaded the bases with two outs and Abromovitz came to the plate. While that home run proved to be the play of the game, junior pitcher Tim Turner (Marietta, Ga.) was the player of the game.
The left-handed Turner put in a workman-like effort, throwing over 140 pitches in eight innings on the mound, giving up four earned runs on 13 hits while collecting eight strikeouts. Turner's biggest test came in the top of the eighth when the Wildcats put runners on first and second with two outs. ETSU head coach Tony Skole came to the mound but chose not to make a pitching change.
Turner responded by striking out Davidson's Justin Hartanov.
"We had to get this win," said Turner, referring to the fact ETSU is now in a tie for eighth in the SoCon standings - only the top eight teams make the postseason tournament. "This late in the season and with the ups and downs we've had this year, this was our most important weekend of the year. It didn't matter how long I stayed out there we needed this one.
"Luckily, Jordan came through for us at the plate."
The Bucs opened the scoring with three runs in the first thanks to a solo home run by Andy Howdeshell (Maryville), an RBI triple by Caleb Moore (Knoxville) and a sacrifice fly by Blake Church (Roswell, Ga.).
Davidson answered with single runs in the third and sixth, as well as three runs in the fifth inning.
Jay Heafner led Davidson with a game-high four hits and two RBIs, while ETSU's Shane Byrne (Johnson City) was 2-for-4 with two runs scored for the Bucs. Turner (2-5) picked up the win and senior Willie McKenzie (Kingsport, Tenn.) picked up his second save of the year. Carter dropped to 2-5 on the season.
The Bucs will return to action against Davidson Saturday at 2 p.m. Skole said he was proud of his team's efforts Friday night, but that focus needed to remain the rest of the series.
"We've struggled all year hitting with runners in scoring position but tonight we got the big hit when we needed it," Skole said. "That hit swayed the game and Tim really battled. I'm proud of the way we played and this was a big win.
"But this time of year every game is a big game and that will be the case the rest of the weekend."
East Tennessee State will play Davidson again on Saturday, April 26. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Howard Johnson Field.