FRIDAY, MAY 11, 2007
Baseball holds on for 4-3 win over ETSU
May 11, 2007
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - After staking an early lead, the JU baseball team had to hold off rallies by East Tennessee State in the final four innings as junior Matt Gardner notched his first career save by getting one out in the ninth as the Dolphins defeated Bucs, 4-3, Friday evening at Cardinal Park.
JU (26-24, 11-11) took an early 3-1 lead with six hits through three innings but only managed one more for the rest of the contest while using six pitchers in the contest.
ETSU (26-24, 11-11) has now lost five consecutive games despite finishing with a game-high nine hits and leaving 10 runners on base.
"We did everything to take this game and we came through," said JU head coach Terry Alexander. "This game was important to win because it sets the stage for the rest of the weekend."
Senior Justin Young (5-4) got the win after allowing two runs on three hits with four walks and two strikeouts. Gardner got the save after getting Justin Aughey to fly out to right with a runner on first base and two outs.
Brandon Langston (6-6) was tagged with the loss after allowing four runs on seven hits with four walks and a career-high nine strikeouts in eight innings of work. Anthony Russel, C.J. Lee and John Weddle each finished with two hits to lead the Bucs.
The Dolphins took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when senior Mike McCallister hit a sacrifice fly to right. After reaching on a fielder's choice, freshman designated hitter Chuck Opachich moved to third after a double to right by Clifford. On a 3-2 count, McCallister followed with a fly ball to right to score Opachich.
The Bucs evened the game, 1-1, in the bottom of the first when Troy Mendez hit a solo shot over the right-center wall with one out.
JU pushed the lead to 3-1 in the top of the second when James hit an RBI double to left center and junior center fielder Kevin Ferreira hit an RBI single to left with two outs.
Senior third baseman Thomas LePage led off the inning with a single through the right side and then stole second. With two outs, James went with a pitch to left center at the base of the wall to score LePage. In the next at-bat Ferreira stroked a single to left to score James.
The Bucs cut the deficit to 3-2 in the bottom of the sixth when C.J. Lee hit an RBI single to left with the bases loaded and one out. Sophomore Tim Brown ended the threat by inducing John Weddle into an inning-ending double-play.
The Dolphins made it 4-2 in the top of the seventh when Clifford hit an RBI grounder to second. James led off the inning with a double to right center and then moved to third on a fly out to center by Ferreira. After a walk to Opachich, Clifford ripped a pitch off the chest of second baseman Michael Courtney to score James.
ETSU cut the lead to 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh when Anthony Russell hit an RBI single to left. The Bucs still threatened with the bases loaded and two outs but senior D.J. Ackley got Danny Petro to fly out to the warning track in left to end the inning. Clifford made the play after having his back against the wall and leaping to his full extent to snag the ball before it struck the wall.
The Bucs threatened again in the bottom of the eighth with runners on second and third and one out but Ackley got Justin Tramble to ground out to James at second for the force out at home and then picked off Weddle at third to end the inning.
The Dolphins and Bucs will continue their series on Saturday at 2 p.m. The contest can be heard live on WZNZ, AM 1460 with Barry Milligan calling all of the action. The Dolphin Pre-Game Show will air live at 1:45 p.m.