By Gene Renfro
JOHNSON CITY — The East Tennessee State University baseball’s program might have celebrated Senior Day festivities before Saturday’s game, but Stetson celebrated a 2-0 win after a quick contest.
The Bucs will take a 22-28 overall record and a 7-16 Atlantic Sun mark into today’s series finale with the Hatters. In addition, today’s game wraps up the home portion of the regular season.
ETSU will try to start a run towards a bid for the Atlantic Sun Tournament as the Bucs are 3.5 games behind a log-jammed sixth place tie. Stetson kept hopes alive for a regular-season championship with a 13-9 league mark and 33-18 overall. The Hatters go into today’s game two games behind USC Upstate.
“It just depends on what happened, but we’re close to being mathematically eliminated,” ETSU head coach Tony Skole said. “I think it’s going to need 12 conference wins to get in. We just have to come out and play. Hopefully, we can send the seniors out on a high note in their last game here.”
Saturday’s contest would be classified as a pitchers’ duel. The Bucs’ John Long, making his final start at Thomas Stadium, threw his fourth complete game. He gave up the two runs, one earned, on six hits.
Long struck out four without a
walk. Through the first 31⁄3 innings he
was perfect and faced just one over the minimum through five innings.
However, an error on a short-hop throw by third-baseman Chris Riopedre allowed Stetson’s Ben Carhart to reach safely in the seventh. A sacrifice bunt from Mark Jones set up Mitchel Brennan for a RBI double off the wall in left-center. For Brennan, it was the second double for him in a 2-for-4 game.
An inning later Robert Bruce singled to right with an out. He was able to get to third on a single through the right side by Sam Kimmel on a hit and run play. Robert Crews then sent the ball off the end of the bat back to Long who recorded the out, but Bruce scored an insurance run.
Kimmel was 2-for-4 with a stolen base.
ETSU could only muster four hits, but the Bucs tried to rally in the ninth. Andrew Green completed his 2-for-4 day with a single back through the middle for his 200th hit in an ETSU uniform. He moved up on a wild pitch, but like teammate Kerry Doane in the fifth, was left stranded at second.
Josh Powers tossed 91 pitches in 81⁄3 innings of work.
He scattered those four ETSU hits, struck out one and walked another. Of the eight complete innings he tossed, six of them went 1-2-3. Robbie Powell recorded the final out for his 17th save of the season.
In addition, Stetson head coach Pete Dunn earned his 1,200th victory, all at the helm of the Hatters in his 34th season.
“We executed, when you get in games like this you have to get bunts down and get base hits to score the first one. Then executed the hit and run to set up the second run,” Dunn said.
Stetson ……………………. 000 000 110 — 2 6 0 ETSU ……………………….. 000 000 000 — 0 4 1
Powers, Griffin (9), Powell (9) and Kimmell. Jo. Long and Barnett. W—Powers (4-1). L—Jo.Long (6-6). Sv—Powell (17). T—2:07 A—235.
Friday’s Game Stetson ……………………………………………….. 4 ETSU …………………………………………………… 3 Stetson broke a 2-2 tie with two runs in the sixth inning and the Hatters held on to defeat ETSU in the series opener on Friday night.
Stetson starting pitcher Lindsey Caughel (7-2) earned
the victory after allowing six hits and three runs in 61⁄3
innings of work. Caughel struck out eight and walked two in the contest. Robbie Powell earned his 16th save of the season to break the school’s all-time saves record.
Meanwhile, ETSU starter Jake Long (2-8) picked up the loss after giving up seven hits and four runs in six innings.
Spencer Theisen led the Hatters at the plate with a 3-for-4 night. Meanwhile, Sam Kimmel, Robert Crews and Tanner Blackman each had a hit and an RBI.
Kerry Doane and Chris Riopedre totaled two hits apiece to lead the Bucs offensively. Clinton Freeman and Alex Reynolds each had a hit and an RBI on the night.