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Bucs ride eight-run first to win over Rider

Jeff Birchfield • Feb 23, 2020 at 7:10 PM

JOHNSON CITY — What a response by the East Tennessee State baseball team.

After giving up four runs in the top of the first inning, the Bucs answered with eight runs in the bottom of the frame on their way to a 10-4 win over Rider on Sunday at Thomas Stadium.

ETSU’s bats heated up with four singles, a triple and a double for the big outburst that pushed them to the series-clinching victory. The Bucs (5-2) won Friday’s opener 7-0 but dropped a 7-4 decision to the Broncs (4-2) on Saturday.

The Bucs also started off on the wrong foot in Saturday’s loss, but this time they responded.

“We got that 8-spot and it was good to see us bounce back like that,” ETSU coach Joe Pennucci said. "It’s interesting how you bounce back after that loss on Saturday where we didn’t play well at all. To bounce back after you’re down by four, that’s tough. You can easily sit back and feel sorry for yourself, but we definitely didn’t do that.”

Ethan Cady had a two-run triple to center field to highlight the first. He studied the tendencies of Rider pitcher Kyle Smith before taking the swing that scored Cade Gilbert and Kyle Richardson.

“I saw he was hanging his changeup,” Cady noted. “I knew he was going to throw the changeup after I came off the bench yesterday and hit a double off a fastball. I knew they would throw a lot of changeups. I saw the pitch high so I took it to center field.”

The senior right fielder went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored, including the final run in the sixth. He singled and stole second before coming home on Jake Lyle’s single.

“On the steal, I was getting the jumps from their pitchers well,” Cady said. “I was timing up his pitching after I had reached on a one-out single. He was focused on throwing strikes so I was able to get the jump and later get my team a run.”

Lyle went 3-for-3 with two RBIs and Noah Hill and Jackson Greer each went 2-for-4.

Drew Haynie crushed a solo home run to left in the fifth for his second shot of the season.

BUCS PITCHING

ETSU starter Landon Smiddy allowed nine hits and four runs over four innings. Relievers Matt Mercer, Joseph Acosta and Nathanial Tate combined to give up one hit and one walk the rest of the way.

Mercer (1-0), a junior left-hander, picked up the win after striking out five and allowing no runs or walks in three innings.

“Mercer has been through a lot. As a freshman, he got limited time,” Pennucci said. “Last year, he was one of our big bullpen pieces and this year, I think we can use him in a lot of different roles. He held them down for three innings and that was great to see.”

Broncs starter Kenny Quijano (0-1) gave up four runs off two hits and two walks. He didn’t record an out.

NEXT UP

ETSU heads to Clemson on Tuesday for a 4 p.m. game.

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