Johnson City, Tenn. – Jimmy Nesselt pitched seven strong innings and struck out eight to lead ETSU to an 8-4 victory over USC Upstate Friday night in game one of a three-game series from Thomas Stadium.
Nesselt allowed two runs (one earned) on seven hits en route to his fifth win of the season. Upstate starting pitcher Eric Birklund suffered the loss after allowing six runs on nine hits in 2.2 innings of work.
ETSU scored the first run of the game on an RBI infield single from right fielder Tyler Roach in the bottom of the first inning. Centerfielder Jeremy Taylor opened the frame with a single up the middle and stole second in the following at-bat to move into scoring position. After a strikeout of Chris Cook and a walk to Clinton Freeman, Taylor swiped third and came around to score two batters later when Roach's comebacker hit off Birklund's glove and trickled towards third base.
The Buccaneers used seven hits in the third inning on their way to five runs and a 6-0 lead. Taylor slapped a single to left to open the inning and moved to third when Cook followed with a double to right field. Two batters later, shortstop Chris Riopedre plated both runners with a single into left field. ETSU also received RBI singles later in the inning from Kevin Phillips and Jordan Sanford and an RBI triple from Trey York.
Upstate scored a run on a wild pitch and an RBI groundout from Tyler Lesch in the fifth inning to pull within 6-2 of ETSU. First baseman Zach Krider got things started with a one-out double into right-centerfield before Justin Allen drew a walk to put runners on first and second. Shortstop Daniel Fickas followed with a single into right field to load the bases before Krider scampered home in the next at-bat when Nesselt's pitch hit the dirt and squirted away from catcher Matt Sorrow. Lesch grounded out to the right side thereafter to allow Allen to score from third with his 17th RBI of the season.
Riopedre picked up his third RBI of the night with a seventh inning double to left field that scored Freeman to put the Buccaneers ahead 7-2. Riopedre added another RBI single in the eighth inning to account for ETSU's final run of the game.
Upstate pushed across two runs in the ninth inning when Allen laced a two-run single up the middle.
Lesch finished 2-for-4 with one RBI and registered his team-leading 18th multi-hit game, while Krider collected three hits and turned in his 14th multi-hit performance.
Upstate and ETSU continue a three-game series Saturday at 2:05 p.m. from Thomas Stadium.