Skole, who coached East Tennessee State for 18 years before moving back to his alma mater this season, spent most of the day visiting with friends before coming to the ballpark. Once there, his Bulldogs rallied from a three-run deficit to force extra innings.
In the 10th inning, Ryan McCarthy singled up the middle to score Taylor Cothran in what proved to be the game-winner in a 6-5 win over ETSU at Thomas Stadium.
“I had a great day. Today, I got to see a lot of former co-workers,” Skole said. “Coming into the stadium wasn’t bad, but once you see the other guys, it was a little different because I care so much about those kids. You’re coaching against them, yet you’re pulling for them. But I’m proud of our guys offensively with how we answered back in that ball game and we were able to get the big hit late.”
The Bulldogs improved to 16-27, while the Bucs fell to 23-18.
McCarthy struck first with a solo home run in the first inning, but ETSU scored two runs with Cullen Smith scoring on an error and a RBI single by Cade Gilbert.
Like Skole mentioned, The Citadel answered with another solo home run, this one by Jonathan Sabo, before the Bucs scored three runs in the third.
Caleb Longley had an RBI double, while singles from Christian Bailey and Smith led to a 5-2 lead. The Citadel tied it a frame later with a two-run triple by Adam Colon and a RBI single by Clay Martin before 4 1/2 scoreless innings.
ETSU suffered a setback when Bailey was injured extending on a play at first base. Micah Kaczor threw the first five innings and Drew Korzybski (2-3) worked the final five in suffering the loss.
Smith led the Bucs at the plate with a 3-for-4 effort and Jackson Greer had two hits.
As ETSU coach Joe Pennucci had to leave right after the game, hitting coach Ross Oeder talked about the missed scoring chances — with the Bucs leaving 10 runs on base.
“We had plenty of opportunities late in the game to come away with something,” Oeder said. “We popped up a bunt at the end and we had some other plays not go our way, but you have to give credit to them. They came out with some good energy and played hard all game.”
McCarthy was 3 for 4 with two RBIs and two runs to lead The Citadel. Colon and Jeffrey Brown each had two hits as part of the Bulldogs’ 12-hit attack.
Dylan Spence went 6 1/3 innings before Jordan Buster (4-3) pitched the final 3 2/3 innings for the win.
The teams will play again Friday at 6:30 p.m. in the second game of the three-game series.