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Walk-off grand slam dooms Bucs in opener

Staff Report • May 21, 2014 at 8:55 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Kennesaw State scored seven late unanswered runs, capped by a walk-off grand slam by Brennan Morgan in the bottom of the 10th inning, to send East Tennessee State to an 11-7 loss in the first game of the Atlantic Sun Conference baseball tournament on Wednesday at Swanson Stadium.

The Bucs had rallied to take a 7-4 lead into the bottom of the eighth, but the Owls scored three runs in the inning to tie it up. A-Sun player of the year Max Pentecost led off the bottom of the 10th with a triple and ETSU intentionally walked the next two batters to load the bases. Brennan Morgan sent the second pitch he saw over the left field wall for the walk-off grand slam.

“I didn’t think it was getting out,” Morgan said of his grand slam. “I just wanted to get the job done with a sacrifice fly and next thing I know it ends up behind the wall. One of those things with a fast ball up and I let it fly.”

The loss sent the sixth-seeded Bucs (26-29) into an elimination game today against No. 2 Mercer, which fell to No. 7 Stetson 7-5 in 10 innings on Wednesday. Game time is 10 a.m. ETSU took two of three from the Bears last week in the final regular-season series.

Kennesaw State (34-21) advanced to play Stetson today at 5 p.m. The winner of the ETSU-Mercer game will play the loser of that game on Friday at 3 p.m.

Morgan finished Wednesday’s game 4-for-4 with five RBIs and two runs.

Kennesaw went up 2-0 in the second inning on RBI hits by Matt Bahnick and Alex Liquori. The Bucs answered with two runs in the third. Jeremy Taylor had an RBI groundout that plated Trey York, who singled for the first of his three hits of the day, and Chris Cook hit a two-out bloop single to score Matt Sorrow, who reached on a double.

The Owls retook the lead in the fourth after Bo Way led off with a double and scored on a single by Morgan.

ETSU took its first lead of the game with a three-run fifth. The first four batters reached to start the inning with York leading off with a double and Sorrow was safe on a fielder’s choice sacrifice bunt back to the pitcher. Taylor tied the game on a double and Cook put the Bucs on top with a single in the next at-bat. Clinton Freeman padded the lead with a sacrifice fly that made it 5-3.

Kennesaw added an unearned run in the sixth before Taylor drove in Jordan Sanford for his third RBI of the day and pushed ETSU’s lead to 6-4. Trey York singled and come home on a throwing error in the eighth to make it 7-4.

In the bottom of the eighth, the first three Kennesaw batters got hits off ETSU’s Freeman, who had come on in relief and worked a 1-2-3 seventh. Chris McGowen drove in a pair on a double to left to cut the deficit to one and, after advancing on a sacrifice bunt by Morgan, scored the game-tying run on a single by Bahnick.

ETSU threatened in the ninth but left the bases loaded. Cook led off with an infield single and moved to second on an intentional walk to Freeman. Following a sacrifice bunt by Chris Riopedre, Tyler Roach fouled out to third and Kevin Phillips was given a free pass before pinch-hitter Andrew Lasure hit into an inning-ending groundout to second.

Will Chesney retired the side in order in the bottom of the ninth, but after the Bucs mustered nothing offensively in the top of the 10th, he gave up the winning runs in the bottom of the inning to give Kennesaw State its second straight walk-off win over the Bucs.

Jimmy Nesselt started for ETSU and allowed three runs on six hits in four innings, before giving way to Jamin McCann who allowed on unearned run and struck out two in two innings. Chesney fell to 4-3 with the loss.

ETSU had four players with multiple hits. York and Cook both had three, while Freeman and Taylor each had a pair. York was 3-for-4 with three runs scored and Cook went 3-for-5 with two RBIs. Taylor drove in three runs.

Jordan Sanford extended his streak of reaching base safely to 18 straight games with a single up the middle, and a run scored, in the sixth.

Way was also 4-for-4 and scored four runs for the Owls. Morgan and Way combined for eight of Kennesaw’s 15 hits. Justin McCalvin pitched two scoreless innings to get the win.

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