CHARLESTON, S.C. (May 5, 2017) – In game one of a three-game series in Charleston, S.C., the ETSU baseball team was out-matched by The Citadel as three Bulldogs posted three-hit games at Joe Riley Park on Friday highlighted by a two home run afternoon by Jonathan Sabo.
Aaron Maher (Brentwood, Tenn.) led the ETSU offense as he went 2-for-5 with three RBIs and a run scored. He stroked a two RBI triple in the sixth inning, which was his third of the season and seventh triple of his career. In his first start in just under two weeks, Seth Cunningham (Bristol, Va.) tallied a pair of hits for his eighth multi-hit game of the year, and Caleb Longley (Cleveland, Tenn.) started the offense in the first frame as he stroked a two RBI triple. Hagen Owenby (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Blake Rowlett (Clarksville, Tenn.) each touched home once and drew a pair of walks in the series opener.
Ryan Simpler (Lewes, Del.) twirled six innings while scattering eight hits and allowing three earned runs and striking out three. Peyton Taylor (Kingsport, Tenn.) held the Bulldogs’ bats in-check in the eighth inning after facing four batters.
ETSU took a quick lead as the top of the order dominated The Citadel starting pitcher, Alex Bialakis. Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.) led off the game with a single back up the middle. Maher traded places with his teammate as he reached on a fielder’s choice, and Maher followed with his 12th stolen base of the season. Owenby drew a walk to put two Buccaneers on base with two outs, and Longley roped a triple to the left-center field gap to clear the bases, which gave ETSU the 2-0 lead early.
Sabo cut the ETSU lead in half as he uncorked on his first home run of the game to left field. The Bulldogs knotted the game at 2-2 in the second inning as John Thelan scored Jeffery Brown from third base after a two-base throwing error.
After a scoreless third inning for both teams, ETSU jumped out to its second lead of the game as Maher cracked a two RBI single to center field to score Cook and Hunter Parker (Chattanooga, Tenn.). The Bulldogs quickly retaliated as Thelan knocked a sacrifice fly to left field to make the game 4-3 ETSU.
Scoring in their fourth different inning, the Bulldogs tied the game up in the fifth inning as Sabo connected with his second solo home run of the game to left center. However, the Blue and Gold quickly responded with a one-run sixth inning as Maher smoked his second triple of the season high off the right field wall. The three base hit scored Cook from second easily to give the Bucs a narrow 5-4 advantage.
Cullen Smith (Lebanon, Tenn.) tried to start a rally and extend his team’s lead in the seventh as he turned on a single to right field with one out. He advanced to second on a wild pitch, but after a pitching change, the Bulldogs left him stranded to preserve the one-run deficit.
The Citadel quickly took advantage after Simpler came out of the game after 115 pitches as the Bulldogs jumped on left-handed pitcher Jamin McCann (Kingsport, Tenn.) for two runs off a walk and a hit. Dillon Cate (Sevierville ,Tenn.) came in to pitch and surrendered the third run of the inning off a pair of hits, which gave the Bulldogs a 7-5 lead.
After gaining the 7-5 lead, The Citadel shutdown the ETSU attack as the Bucs went down in order in the last two frames.
ETSU falls to 20-24 overall and 3-13 in Southern Conference play, while The Citadel advances to 13-29 and 4-12 in the SoCon.
McCann was pinned with the loss, and he falls to 3-2 on the season. Marlin Morris earns his first victory of the year after tossing 1.1 scoreless innings. Jordan Buster secured his second save of the year.
The second game of the three-game series with the Bulldogs is set for Saturday at Joe Riley Park on May 6. First pitch is set for 2 p.m., and Griffin Krieg (Nashville, Tenn.) is scheduled to start for the Blue and Gold.