By Gene Renfro
JOHNSON CITY — The East Tennessee State baseball squad might have taken game one of the Atlantic Sun series against North Florida, but the visitors used a 13-4 win Saturday to take the series thanks in part to a sixth inning where a dozen runs scored.
ETSU will go into Tuesday’s contest at UNC Asheville and Wednesday’s home game against Tennessee with a 15-14 record. The Bucs and North Florida share matching 4-8 records in the conference and the Ospreys are 20-14 overall.
“It was a huge game for us as far as for our season and being early in the conference season just as a game we felt like we needed to win. We just couldn’t hold it together it all points to the one bad inning,” ETSU head coach Tony Skole commented.
The top of the sixth saw 16 Ospreys come to the plate with the 12 runs, all unearned, coming on six hits with six walks allowed. ETSU had four pitchers on the mound to get the three outs as well. In comparison during the closing three innings only 12 North Florida batters stepped up.
Tyler Marincove belted a two-run home run in his second plate appearance of the sixth inning. He drew a bases loaded walk earlier in the frame. For the game, he was 2-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored.
“We had one good inning and it snowballed after that,” North Florida head coach Smoke Laval said. “We don’t have that consistency, so I’m excited to see what we can do.”
Jake Long, a sophomore, started the sixth for the Bucs after five innings with the only blemish coming on a solo home run by Alex Bacon in the fifth. Will Chesney, Will Carter and Logan Rice combined to face eight batters before Rice got an out to end the marathon frame.
“That’s something that hasn’t happened to us all season, an inning that got away from us like that,” Skole said about the sixth. “I know we had walks and a couple of errors. We just weren’t mentally tough enough to step up in that situation to stop the bleeding and it got away from us. I give North Florida credit, they took advantage of the opportunity we gave them and they made the most of it.”
The home side jumped in front 2-0 with a two-out rally in the third. Matthew Scruggs used a one-hopper off the fence in left center for a double before Andrew Green was hit by a pitch. Clinton Freeman then delivered a triple to that same left-center gap to score his two teammates. It was his third triple of 2012.
All nine North Florida starters scored at least once while Bacon and T.J. Gavlik both added two hits. Bacon also drove in three runs.
ETSU’s duo of Derek Niesman and Chris Riopedre had two hits each. Riopedre had a RBI single in the sixth and Niesman raced home on a wild pitch.
The Bucs were looking for clutch hitting, but the squad was 3-for-16 with runners on base. ETSU also went 2-for-13 in RBI opportunities which saw eight runners left on base. From the other side, North Florida was 7-for-16 with runners on and 6-for-12 in RBI opportunities. With two outs the Ospreys was near .500 at 8-for-17.
North Florida was able to get 6 2/3 innings from Tyler Moore. The Ospreys hurler, now 4-1 on the season, worked around six hits and posted nine strikeouts as he tossed 117 pitches.
North Florida 000 01(12) 000 — 13 11 1
ETSU 002 002 000 — 4 9 4
Moore, Jagodzinski (7), Herrmann (9). Ja.Long, Chesney (6), Carter(6), Rice (6), Waters (7). W— Moore (4-1). L—Ja.Long (2-3). HR—UNF, Marincov (6); Bacon (5).