ETSU started a three game series sweep of Seton Hall on Friday in a way no team had been able to since April 25, 2010. The Bucs hit three home runs, two from junior Clinton Freeman and one from senior Andrew Green, off of Seton Hall pitcher Jon Prosinski. Prosinski hadn’t given up a home run in almost three years. The MLB scouts on hand came for Prosinski and left with ETSU Baseball on the brain.
The Buccaneers downed Seton Hall 7-3 in the first game of the weekend series. ETSU turned to senior right-handed pitcher Kerry Doane to start the series. Doane rewarded the Bucs with a complete game effort giving up nine hits with three earned runs and five strikeouts.
“Our starting pitching has been very good in all our games,” said ETSU head coach Tony Skole. “I am very proud of Kerry he was phenomenal Friday night.”
While Doane was keeping the Seton Hall batters on their heels Freeman continued to produce crooked number home runs and RBI’s for the Bucs. The Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week reached base in three of his four plate appearances. Freeman hit two home runs, a solo shot in the first to put ETSU up 1-0 and a three run blast in the fifth that put the Bucs up 7-2 and chased Prosinski from the game. Freeman was intentionally walked in his final plate appearance, a trend that is sure to continue if he produces at this level all year.
With the first game of the series notched in the win column ETSU looked towards the weekend hoping to build on the momentum of a four game win streak.
While Friday’s game was neatly wrapped up by the sixth the remaining two games in the series tested the Bucs resiliency. Freshman pitcher Griffin Krieg got the nod for ETSU in game two of the series, a game that would push ETSU to its final out in the ninth.
The Bucs fell behind early on Saturday 4-0 to Seton Hall heading to the bottom of the fourth. Krieg had been chased from the game after 3.2 innings of work for ETSU. Krieg gave up four runs, three earned on four hits while walking five and striking out two before Skole went to the bullpen.
“Right now we have a lot of young arms in our bullpen,” said Skole. “We’ve got to get these young guys some work. Hopefully we’ll keep getting good starting pitching but hopefully we can bring along some of these young guys.”
Seton Hall seemed to be one step ahead of the Bucs for most of game two. The Pirates jumped out to an early lead only to see ETSU take a 5-4 lead after a five run fourth. Seton Hall answered with a big inning in the sixth. The Pirates plated four runs chasing relief pitchers Josh Jacques and Logan Rice during the frame.
With the Bucs main offensive weapon going 1 of 4 from the plate ETSU was forced to find runs from a wide range of players. The Bucs had seven players produce hits and six different guys produced at least one RBI. Freeman, the Bucs leading offensive player struck out twice and drove in zero runs. With his swing not cooperating the junior was called on to pitch the final inning with the game tied at 8-8.
“Doing whatever it takes to get the win,” said Freeman. “I knew once my last at-bat was over that I had to go to the mound and change the game plan.”
Freeman did his part, retiring three straight batters in the ninth to keep the game tied and give his team a chance to win the game with one swing of the bat. The bottom of ETSU’s batting order was due up for the Bucs in the ninth. Zach Thompson and Mason Hershey struck out and grounded out respectively to put ETSU in a two out hole.
With two outs on the board ETSU’s nine-hole hitter came to the plate just hoping to make contact and keep his team in the game.
“I was just going up thinking what way can I help my team out,” said short stop Chris Riopedre. “I just wanted to get on base and I got a good swing off and the good lord carried the ball out.”
Riopedre’s walk-off home run was his first collegiate home run and gave ETSU the 9-8 win over Seton Hall.
The third and final game of the series was low scoring but did not disappoint in action. Both teams combined for just seven runs in ten innings. Sophomore pitcher Jimmy Nesselt gave the Bucs eight innings of work. Seton Hall tallied seven hits with three runs, two earned. The right-hander struck out five while only allowing one Pirate to reach base on balls.
Another slow day at the plate for ETSU set up more late game drama. After the Bucs had tied the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the sixth both teams went scoreless until the bottom of the tenth, again ETSU scored the walk-off with two outs on the board.
Third baseman Alex Reynolds led off for the Bucs and reached base on balls. Reynolds would advance around the base path to third courtesy of a Mason Hershey sacrifice bunt followed by a pass ball. With Reynolds on third right-fielder Dylan Tritsch came to plate for ETSU.
“Think I had two strikes and one ball,” said Tritsch. “I was looking fastball, he threw a curveball and actually hung it a little bit I just whacked it right through the six hole near short stop.”
As Tritsch drove the ball through the infield Reynolds crossed home plate and join his teammates in pursuit of ETSU’s latest hero.
“It was an exciting thing,” said Tritsch. “I got trampled and soaked with water but it was fun, definitely fun.”