JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After missing out on Friday night’s game due to unrelenting rains in the area, the Jacksonville University baseball team was eager to step back onto the field and work towards a third straight Atlantic Sun victory. Unfortunately, East Tennessee State had some other ideas, and a driving rain in the mid-afternoon never gave the Dolphins a chance to get back into the ballgame. An early three-run homer from Clinton Freeman gave the Buccaneers a comfortable lead from the very beginning and ETSU held on for a 7-3 win in seven innings on Saturday afternoon at John Sessions Stadium.
East Tennessee State (19-18; 8-6 A-Sun) attacked Jacksonville starter Josh Baker early in the count and took advantage of the sophomore as he pounded the strike zone in first inning. Consecutive base hits from Jeremy Taylor and Chris Cook put two runners on for Freeman, who lifted the first offering he saw up and over the fence in right field for a 3-0 lead.
The Dolphins (13-25; 7-10 A-Sun) were not able to return the favor to ETSU starter Jimmy Nesselt. JU managed to put runners aboard in four of the first five innings, but could never come through with a two-out hit when they needed it.
In the meantime, ETSU was able to tack on a run in the top of the third when the Dolphins committed an error on what could have been an inning-ending double play. A double with a man on in the top of the sixth put the Bucs up, 5-0.
Needing a spark, Jacksonville got one from Connor Marabell. A double into left field put the sophomore in scoring position, and he scored three batters later off of a sacrifice fly from Nate Ricci for the first Dolphin run of the game. JU would add a second run before the end of the frame, with Michael Babb plating Braddock Rowe after the catcher flashed some wheels to steal second base.
Baker left the game in the top of the seventh with one down and runners on the corners, but Scott Schaub was able to erase the man on third with a nice grab down the third base line that forced Taylor into a pickle before Rowe applied the tag. Nearly out of the inning, Jacksonville walked in one run and then gave up an infield single to fall behind, 7-2, before the game reached the stretch.
With clouds looming overhead, Jacksonville wasted little time in getting after Nesselt in the bottom of the seventh. Back-to-back doubles from Dylan Dillard and Angelo Amendolare made it 7-3 and forced ETSU into its bullpen. It was the first baseman Freeman who transitioned roles and came into pitch, but he faced only two batters before the rain increased and halted the proceedings. After a delay of nearly an hour, the decision was made to call the game and cut the series short due to the field conditions.
Marabell led the JU offense on the day; going 2-of-3 and collecting his seventh double of the season.
Jacksonville will hope for better cooperation from Mother Nature on Tuesday night, visiting Gainesville to take on Florida at 7 p.m.
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