Baseball’s offensive juggernaut captures series against ETSU

By Brandon Boyer, Staff Writer

Published in print Apr. 1, 2015

The great start to Southern Conference play continued this past weekend for the Spartans, as the baseball team tallied up two wins and their second loss in conference play in a three-game series at East Tennessee State University over the weekend.

After being on both sides of two high scoring affairs against Western Carolina last week, the matchup against the East Tennessee State Bucs proved to be much closer, with the average margin of victory being just two runs in favor of the victor.

Game 1: UNCG 8-6 ETSU

The series opener in Johnson City, Tennessee was the first matchup between the Spartans and the Bucs on the diamond in a decade. Led by a season-high of 16 hits, the Spartans built an early lead, getting as far ahead as 6-0, and sat on the cushion as the game wound down and the hosts mounted their comeback.

Senior outfielder Tyler Long hit phenomenally at the plate, hitting 4-for-5 and allotting two RBIs. Sophomore catcher Jake Kusz led the way in runs scored with three, while the rest of the top six batters each had two RBIs.

Ryan Clark, a junior, earned his fifth win of the season, throwing for seven innings and allowing four runs on nine hits with two walks and six K’s, pushing his ERA to 3.12.

The Bucs rally in the bottom of the seventh provided a slight scare for the visiting Spartans, but not even a little bit of snow falling in the late game stretch could bridge the gap for East Tennessee State.

Game 2: UNCG 7-5 ETSU

The Spartans clinched the series in the pivotal second game at Thomas Stadium on the campus of the hosting ETSU Bucs on Saturday, for the team’s fourth win in a row.

Working off an early three-run lead, UNC-Greensboro’s bullpen picked up the slack to close the game out. Senior Tyler Frazier and Junior Bryant Stafford combined to hold the Bucs to one run and five hits over the final five innings. Frazier was given the win, his second of the season, throwing for two innings without a hit and scoring four strikeouts. Stafford slammed the door shut on the hosts, allowing one run on three hits in the final inning, garnering his second save of the series.

With two hits coming in the first game and another hit in the second game, senior outfielder Zac MacAneney extended his hit streak to 14 games in a row.

Hunter King came up big for the Spartans, batting 2-for-4, smashing two, two-run homeruns in this game, pushing UNC-Greensboro past their homerun total from last season, now with 25.

The Bucs mounted another late game comeback off of great hitting, but it just wasn’t enough to close the deal or the game against the offensive juggernaut that has been the UNCG Spartans.

Game 3: UNCG 3-5 ETSU

A rally by the hosting Bucs in the bottom of the eighth saw the Spartans’ win streak come to an end and a miss of the weekend sweep for the visitors. Despite the Blue and Gold managing 10 hits to the Bucs’ seven hits, two fielding errors cost UNC-Greensboro the game and the sweep.

Freshman pitcher Michael Bates threw a fantastic five innings for the Spartans, managing to just allow one run on five hits. Junior Blair Betts was given the loss after an off game, allowing one earned run off of one hit and one strikeout.

The Spartans were kept scoreless for the final three innings. Senior outfielder Nick Chapman provided a small sliver of hope for the Blue and Gold, as he doubled with two outs in the top of the ninth, put a pop up caught in foul territory ended the game before the Spartans’ hot bats could respond.

The two wins and a loss move the Spartans to 12-13 on the year, 4-2 in conference, tying them for second place in the Southern Conference standings with Samford.

Speaking of Samford, the next stop of the Road Trip de Spartan is one to Birmingham, Alabama and Joe Lee Griffin Field, where the Samford Bulldogs host the UNCG Spartans in a three game series. The teams will play a doubleheader on Friday, beginning at 2 p.m., and will close the series on Saturday, with first pitch coming at 1 p.m.

Categories: Sports

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