JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (March 1, 2014) – Canisius right-hander Rohn Pierce tossed a three-hit shutout, while Jimmy Luppens and Brett Siddall drove in runs with RBI doubles in the third, and the Golden Griffins won the series with a 2-0 victory over ETSU on Saturday afternoon at Thomas Stadium.
Pierce was dealing from the get-go as he took a no-hitter into the fourth inning and needed only 87 pitches to complete the shutout in two hours and six minutes. The junior hurler, who had already beat then-No. 5 North Carolina State and USA Player of the Year Carlos Rodon, improved to 2-0 and lowered his ERA to 0.78 on the season. Pierce struck out six ETSU hitters and walked none.
ETSU junior right-hander Jimmy Nesselt (Plantation, Fla.) suffered the loss (1-1), despite allowing only two runs on six hits in six innings of work. Nesselt also walked three and struck out two. Senior Logan Rice (Erwin, Tenn.) and Jared Burton (Knoxville, Tenn.) kept their scoreless inning streaks intact by holding Canisius off the board in the final three innings out of the bullpen. Rice, who has now tossed 8.2 scoreless frames to start the year, scattered two hits and struck out two in 1.1 innings, while Burton held the Griffs hitless in the final 1.2 innings of the contest. Burton has now made seven scoreless appearances (6.2 IP) and allowed only one hit on the campaign.
“I thought today was an extremely well-pitched ballgame,” said head coach Tony Skole. “Jimmy (Nesselt) didn't have his best stuff, but he hung in there and really battled to keep us in the game. Logan (Rice) and Jared (Burton) were phenomenal out of the bullpen and gave us a chance to win.
“But the story of the game was Rohn Pearce. He simply dominated our lineup as he poured pitch after pitch in the strike zone.”
The Bucs, who have now been shutout for the second time in the first 10 games of the season, dipped to 5-5 after losing the weekend series, while Canisius – a 2013 NCAA Tournament participant and favorite to win the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference – improved to 5-3.
After both teams were held scoreless in the first two innings, Canisius got all the offense they needed in the second inning to take the 2-0 lead. The Griffs led off the frame with back-to-back doubles by Jesse Puscheck and Luppens to plate the first run, while Luppens scored on an RBI double from Siddall.
The Bucs finally snapped Pierce’s no-hit bid when ETSU picked up singles in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, but ETSU’s offense was held in check by the right-hander.
In the fourth, Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.) singled back up the middle, but Chris Riopedre (Miami, Fla.) hit into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play to stop any rally. Andrew Lasure (Stanford, Ky.) posted a one-out single to center an inning later, but Pierce forced the next two Buccaneer hitters to ground into a fielder’s choice. Then in the sixth, Zach Mize (Gainesville, Ga.) led off the inning with a bunt single to third, but after Trey York (Knoxville, Tenn.) laid down a sac-bunt, Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.) fouled out to third and Freeman lined out to right.
That stretch of plays kept Pierce in the zone as he retired the final 12 ETSU hitters he faced en route to posting consecutive wins for Canisius.
Coach Skole knows after being outscored 11-2 in the series and seeing ETSU’s batting average dip to .232 following its three-hit effort, that his team needs to toughen up and some changes may be necessary.
“We are really struggling as a team offensively right now,” added Skole. “It’s very frustrating. We are going to keep working and try to shake things up a little bit, but being a successful hitter at this level isn't easy. I wish it was, but it simply isn't. We will keep at it and make some adjustments – but one thing is for sure – we cannot feel sorry for ourselves. We have a little bit of that in our clubhouse right now and we must toughen up. If not, this game – as beautiful as it is – will simply punish you.”
The Bucs look to salvage a win in the series finale on Sunday afternoon at 1:05 p.m.
“Tomorrow is a new day and I will make sure our guys will be excited to play,” added Skole, whose club hasn’t been swept at Thomas Stadium since dropping three to Stetson in May of 2012. “We have a great opportunity tomorrow and need to take advantage of it.”
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