JOHNSON CITY, TN- Backed by a masterful pitching performance from junior right-hander Blake Smith (Ninety Six, S.C.) and another balanced attack on offense, the ETSU baseball team rallied for a 9-6 series-clinching win over VMI on Saturday afternoon at Thomas Stadium.
Follow a stout effort by the Buccaneer bullpen on Friday night, Blake Smith followed suit in game two of the series as the ETSU righty was nearly flawless on Saturday – tossing 5.1 innings of one-hit ball in relief against the Keydets. Smith entered the game in the fourth inning and forced a ground out on the only batter he saw. From there, he had two perfect innings and faced four batters in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings. To go with his 5.1 scoreless innings, Smith struck out five and did not allow a walk.
ETSU’s bullpen has now tossed 11.0 scoreless innings dating back to its midweek game at Radford as sophomore Ryan Simpler (Lewes, Del.) retired the two hitters he faced against the Highlanders, while he and junior Jamin McCann (Kingsport, Tenn.) registered five scoreless innings in relief on Friday night.
Smith earned his team-leading fourth win on the year and moves to 4-4. VMI reliever Blaine Lafin was pinned with his third loss of the season and goes to 1-3. Lafin started the seventh inning with a 6-5 lead but surrendered two of the four runs in the frame – including a one-out home run to Hagen Owenby (Knoxville, Tenn.) – to suffer the setback. Josh Winder went six innings and allowed five runs (four earned) on eight hits to earn a no-decision.
Blake Smith totes a 0.00 ERA in 12.1 innings pitched out of the bullpen this month. The Ninety Six, S.C. native allowed two runs (both unearned), while striking out 15. He has allowed one walk this month and has limited opposing batters to a .156 batting average when coming out of the pen.
Courtesy: East Tennessee Athletics