JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (March 21, 2014) – Freshman right-hander Austin Hutchison (Jefferson County, Tenn.) tossed a complete game and sophomore Kevin Phillips (St. Louis, Mo.) broke a tie game with a two-run scoring single in the sixth as the ETSU baseball team opened Atlantic Sun Conference play with a 7-4 win over Stetson on Friday at Thomas Stadium.
Hutchison, who has been stellar since becoming the Bucs’ Friday night starter, was finally rewarded with some offense as ETSU used a four-run sixth inning to rally past the Hatters. After seeing Kerry Doane (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) record an NCAA-best 12 complete games last season, Hutchison became the first Buccaneer hurler to accomplish the feat in 2014 and improved to 2-1 on the campaign. The Jefferson County, Tenn. native allowed four runs (three earned) on eight hits, while striking out six and walking three. Hutchison is now 1-1 with a 2.05 ERA (5 ER/22.0 IP) with 16 strikeouts and six walks in his three Friday night starts.
Despite seeing Stetson jump out to a 2-0 lead after five and a half innings of play, ETSU’s offense – who was held to only two hits in the first five frames – struck for four runs on five hits in the sixth to take the lead for good, 4-2. Freshman Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.) drove in the first run with a double to right-center, while he scored on Tyler Roach’s (Knoxville, Tenn.) RBI single to left. Later in the inning, Phillips entered as a pinch hitter and snapped the tie game when his two-out, two-RBI single scored the go-ahead runs.
For the third straight game, the Bucs finished with double-digit hits as Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.) – who registered his 200th career hit on Friday – led the way with a three-hit performance. The Jonesborough, Tenn. native went 3 for 4 with two doubles, one RBI and one run scored, is now hitting .457 (16-35) in his last eight games. Cook and senior catcher Matt Sorrow (Griffin, Ga.) posted two-hit games for the Bucs as Sorrow’s leadoff single in the sixth ignited the rally. Along with Freeman, junior shortstop Chris Riopedre (Miami, Fla.) also reached a milestone when his one-out infield single in the sixth marked his 100th career hit.
The Bucs have now rattled off consecutive wins for the first time since late February and also picked up their first Friday night victory of the year en route to improving to 10-11, 1-0 in A-Sun play. Stetson, who previously swept the Blue and Gold in its last trip to Thomas Stadium, dipped to 7-15, 0-1.
Stetson jumped out to its 2-0 lead when Kyle Pitts led off the third inning with a home run to left-center, while Garrett Russini’s two-out RBI single in the sixth gave Austin Perez a two-run cushion.
Early on, the two-run lead looked like enough offense for Perez to work with as he retired 15 of the first 17 ETSU hitters he faced, but the Bucs – who were coming off their best offensive surge of the season in Wednesday’s 12-9 win at Western Carolina – finally found the spark in the sixth.
Sorrow got things rolling as he led off the inning with a single to left and scored on Cook’s double to right-center, cutting ETSU’s deficit in half, 2-1. From there, Riopedre reached on an infield single, moving Cook to third and leading to Roach’s two-out RBI single to pull even at two. Stetson would then load the bases by giving a free pass to Dylan Tritsch (Boca Raton, Fla.) – and after the Hatters made a call to the bullpen – Phillips came through with the key two-run scoring single to left, which gave the Blue and Gold a two-run lead.
ETSU carried things over to the seventh by plating three more runs and extended its lead to, 7-2. Again, it was Sorrow who kicked things off with a leadoff single and he eventually crossed the plate on an RBI single by Freeman. Following a six-pitch walk to Riopedre, Roach came to the plate with the bases loaded and picked up his second RBI of the game as he took four straight pitches for another walk. More pitching issues continued to haunt the Hatters later in the frame as Ben Rakus was charged with a balk, which put ETSU ahead by five runs as Freeman scored on the play.
The Hatters didn’t go down without a fight as they scratched two runs across in the top of the ninth, but with the tying run at the plate, Hutchison struck out Tyler Bocock looking to end the game.
Perez was charged with the loss (0-4) after allowing four runs on six hits in 5.2 innings of work.
Pitts paced Stetson’s offense with a three-hit game, while his solo shot in the third was just the second homer by the Hatters this season and the first since Feb. 25 when Stetson fell at Bethune-Cookman, 4-1.
Due to rain scheduled to hit the area on Sunday, ETSU and Stetson will now play a doubleheader on Saturday, beginning at 1:05 p.m. at Thomas Stadium.
ETSU fans wanting to receive Buccaneer news, score updates, in-game promotions and much more sent to their mobile device can do so by signing up for “Buc Updates.” Click here to sign up today!
For more information on Buccaneer baseball, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the baseball link.