Bucs split doubleheader with Eastern Michigan to open season
Blake Church's sacrifice fly in the ninth inning of game two sent the Bucs home with a split.
Blake Church's sacrifice fly in the ninth inning of game two sent the Bucs home with a split.

Friday, February 03, 2006

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 3, 2006) - The Baseball Bucs let a ninth inning lead slip away in game one, and they were not going to allow history to repeat itself in game two.  After squandering a three-run lead in game one and falling 9-6 in the 13 innings, the Bucs again surrendered the tying runs in the ninth inning of game two before senior Blake Church (Roswell, Ga.) delivered the game-winning sacrifice fly in the ninth to give the Bucs a season opening split against Eastern Michigan.


            ETSU carried a 7-5 lead into the ninth inning of game two, but EMU (1-1) loaded the bases with nobody out, and used sacrifice flies from catcher Derek Lehrman and pinch hitter Shane Davis to tie the game.  In the bottom frame, junior catcher John Weddle (Knoxville, Tenn.) worked a leadoff walk and advanced to second on freshman Anthony Biello's (Lower Gwyned, Pa.) sacrifice bunt.  After a wild pitch moved Weddle to third, the Eagles intentionally walked the next two Bucs to pitch to Church who was 1-for-10 on the day.  Facing a 1-2 count, Church drove the pitch to right field, deep enough to score Weddle and send ETSU home with a split.


            EMU got on the board first in the top of the first when shortstop Justin Hehr scored on a sacrifice fly.  The Bucs evened the game in the third when Church was struck by EMU starter Matt Shoemaker's pitch with the bases loaded, bringing home Biello.  The Eagles answered right back in the fourth with a leadoff triple from Lehrman and Mike Markey's RBI double to reclaim the lead, and extended their lead to 3-1 when Markey came home on a Biello throwing error. The Bucs seized the lead for the first time with three runs of their own in the fourth, paced by senior right fielder Shane Byrne's (Johnson City, Tenn.) two-out, two-RBI single.


            Sophomore Joey McCown (Alcoa, Tenn.) picked up the win, pitching the last two outs in the ninth inning.  Junior Ryan Howe (Spartanburg, S.C.) had a solid debut in his first start for the Bucs, striking out six over six innings and surrendering three earned runs.


            The Bucs led throughout game one, and took a 5-2 lead into the ninth, but third baseman Aaron Powell drilled a 3-2, two-out pitch from senior Steven Calicutt (Spartanburg, S.C.) over the right-center field wall with the bases loaded to give the Eagles a 6-5 advantage.  With two down in the bottom half of the inning, junior Michael Courtney (Knoxville, Tenn.) answered, annihilating a 3-2 pitch from EMU's Jeff Fischer over the left field fence to send the game to extra frames.


            The bats fell silent for both teams over the next three innings, with EMU going hitless and ETSU managing just two singles.  In the 13th however, the Eagles put together a three-run rally with four hits, and went on to the 9-6 triumph.


            Fischer picked up the win in game one in five innings of relief work, and Calicutt absorbed the loss for the Bucs.


            The two teams meet again in the series finale on Saturday at 1 pm from Cardinal Park.

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