JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (March 5, 2014) – East Tennessee State University freshman left-hander Jamin McCann (Kingsport, Tenn.) made his first collegiate start a memorable one.
The Buccaneer southpaw tossed five innings of two-hit ball and struck out six as the Bucs snapped a three-game skid with a 4-3 victory over Eastern Kentucky on Wednesday night at Thomas Stadium.
McCann, who made two appearances out of the bullpen prior to tonight’s start, improved to 1-1 on the season, while his six strikeouts tied a season-high for a Buccaneer pitcher. The lefty was in line for the win after Trey York (Knoxville, Tenn.) snapped a scoreless game with a leadoff homer in the fifth, and junior Jordan Sanford (Powell, Tenn.) drove in the second run of the inning with his first collegiate triple. From there, senior Dylan Tritsch (Boca Raton, Fla.) managed to drive in the winning run in the seventh when his RBI single plated Sanford from third. Despite allowing two runs and having the go-ahead run at the plate in the ninth, Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.) – who has been moved back to the closer role – held on to earn his first save of the year by striking out Justin Cessna on three pitches.
York, who hit his first collegiate home run, reached base three times on the night as the ETSU second baseman went 2 for 3 with one walk, one RBI and a run scored, and Tritsch also provided the Blue and Gold with his third multi-hit game by going 2 for 3. In total, seven different players accounted for the nine Buccaneer hits in the winning effort.
With the victory, ETSU moved back to .500 on the campaign as the Bucs stand 6-6 after their first 12 games. On the flip side, Eastern Kentucky saw its three-game win streak snapped and the Colonels dipped to 4-7.
With both starting pitchers tossing scoreless frames through four and a half innings of play, ETSU’s offense finally came alive when York sparked a two-run fifth by leading off the inning with a solo shot to right-center field as his bomb put the Bucs ahead, 1-0. Following the homer, freshman Zach Mize (Gainesville, Ga.) ripped a one-out double and came around to score after Sanford split the gap in right-center, giving ETSU a two-run lead.
The Bucs used another leadoff hit to their advantage an inning later as Freeman started the sixth with a single to right and moved into scoring position on a sac-bunt from Chris Riopedre (Miami, Fla.). After Freeman advanced to third on a groundout by York, pinch hitter Kevin Phillips (St. Louis, Mo.) came through with a clutch two-out RBI single to make it a 3-0 contest.
ETSU finished its scoring in the seventh, as yet again, the Bucs put their leadoff guy on when Sanford was hit by a pitch and later scored on Tritsch’s RBI single to right two plays later. Sandwiched between the eventual game-winning hit was a key double by Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.).
After Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.) and Jared Burton (Knoxville, Tenn.) worked scoreless innings out of the pen in the sixth and seventh innings, Eastern Kentucky finally broke through for its first run of the night on Cole Warrenfeltz’s one-out RBI double off Will Chesney (Knoxville, Tenn.) in the eighth. Despite surrendering his first run of the campaign (10 scoreless innings to start the year), Chesney battled back to get the next two EKU hitters out and kept it a 4-1 ballgame.
Eastern Kentucky registered two runs off Freeman in the ninth as the Colonels got a one-out RBI single by Bryan Soloman, followed by a sac-fly from Taylor Blair to pull within a run, 4-3. Fortunately, Freeman – who converted on all eight of his save chances a year ago – struck out Cessna swinging to end any threat of a comeback.
EKU junior right-hander Ben Gullo took the loss (0-1) as he was charged with two runs on five hits in 4.1 innings, while right fielder TJ Alas provided the Colonels with three of their seven hits at the plate.
Overall, ETSU’s pitchers combined for 11 strikeouts as Burton and Freeman both had two and Chesney added one in his inning of work.
The Bucs wrap up their eight-game homestand this weekend as ETSU hosts Hartford in a three-game series beginning Friday night at 6:05 p.m.
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