AUBURN, Ala. (Feb. 21, 2014) – The ETSU baseball team squandered another solid pitching performance as the Buccaneers were blanked by California, 3-0, on Friday afternoon at the Tiger Classic, which is hosted by Auburn University at Plainsman Park.
Despite allowing three runs on five hits in six innings of work, senior left-hander Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.) suffered his second straight defeat and dropped to 0-2 on the season. Freeman, who allowed three earned runs in his season-opening setback to Longwood last Sunday, struck out four Golden Bear hitters and walked one on Friday. Meanwhile, fellow senior Logan Rice (Erwin, Tenn.) registered his third scoreless appearance of the year as he tossed three innings of perfect ball.
As the Blue and Gold hurlers were doing their job keeping ETSU (2-3) in the game, the Bucs had no answer for reigning Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week Daulton Jefferies. The freshman right-hander held the Bucs to two hits and struck out eight in seven innings, while senior righty Trevor Hildenberger punched out four of the seven ETSU hitters he faced to earn the save. Jefferies improved to 2-0 on the year, and has yet to allow a run in his first 13 innings of action as he tossed six scoreless in the 7-0 win over then-No. 18 Texas last Friday.
The game was a classic pitchers’ duel midway through the contest, but Cal (3-2) struck for three runs on three hits in the top of the sixth to end the scoreless affair. The Golden Bears recorded a leadoff infield single by Mike Reuvekamp and used small ball to move him over to second on a sac-bunt from Derek Campbell. After Freeman plunked Vince Bruno on the first pitch, the southpaw looked to be working out of the dicey situation when he forced Devin Pearson to fly out to left. Unfortunately, Cal used clutch two-out hitting to its advantage by picking up an RBI single by Devon Rodriguez, while Nick Halamandaris’ double to right-center scored two to make it a three-run lead.
Rice silenced the Golden Bears’ bats following the three-run sixth as he retired nine of the 10 Cal hitters he faced; however, Hildenberger kept the Bucs hitless.
ETSU missed scoring chances in the second and seventh innings as the Blue and Gold – who were only shutout twice in 60 games last year – suffered their first blanking of the 2014 season.
In the second, Tyler Roach (Knoxville, Tenn.) worked a 5-pitch walk to begin the bottom half of the frame, but after he moved up to second on a wild pitch, the senior first baseman was gunned down on a bang-bang play at the plate as he tried to score on Chris Cook’s (Kingsport, Tenn.) two-out single to center.
After the threat in the second, Jefferies retired 13 straight ETSU hitters until Freeman’s one-out double in the seventh. Following Freeman’s third double of the year, Jefferies struck out Roach, but the Cal pitcher put himself in trouble by walking Chris Riopedre (Miami, Fla.) and Zach Thompson (Johnson City, Tenn.). But with two outs and the bases loaded, the Cal right-hander forced Cook to end the inning by flying out to right.
Freeman and Cook were the only ETSU batters to record hits, while five different Cal players posted a hit for the Golden Bears. Rodriguez, who drove in the game-winning run with his single in the sixth, reached base twice for Cal as he also walked in the second.
The Bucs look to snap their two-game losing skid Saturday as ETSU faces Arkansas-Pine Bluff at 3 p.m. (Eastern) at Plainsman Park.
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