Mason Hershey made his last weekend at Thomas Stadium one to remember.
A day after winning a game with a 12th-inning double, Hershey had two more run-scoring doubles as the East Tennessee State baseball team closed the regular season Saturday by completing a three-game sweep with an 11-4 victory over Jacksonville.
On Friday night, after a two-hour rain delay, Hershey capped a 3-2 ETSU victory with a walk-off double. It came after midnight.
“Had to push through,” said Hershey, a senior catcher. “Coach always talks about toughness. Playing last night until 12:15 or whatever and going into extras and having to wake up this morning at 8 and get ready to play ... we’ve done it before. Especially being in my shoes, it was easier to get up this morning and get ready to play again and hopefully continue the momentum from what I did the night before.”
The result left the Bucs (32-22 overall, 17-10 in the Atlantic Sun Conference) as the fourth seed in next week’s A-Sun tournament at DeLand, Fla. They will face host school Stetson on Wednesday in the opening round.
Jacksonville, meanwhile, lost out on a tournament berth when USC-Upstate rallied in the bottom of the ninth for a 4-3 victory over North Florida. That left the Dolphins (17-38, 8-19) in ninth place.
Hershey’s first double tied the game at 2-2 in the fourth. His second one came in the sixth inning and gave ETSU the lead for good at 4-3. It also began an eight-run barrage that broke open a close game.
“It was fun,” Hershey said. “Whenever I’m on my hitting game, I’m more of a doubles hitter, so it’s fun to go out with my last game at home hitting two doubles. It makes me feel good.”
Chris Riopedre’s three-run triple was the big blow in the big inning.
The Bucs finished with 11 hits and used five pitchers. Logan Rice (6-3) was the winner in relief.
ETSU coach Tony Skole wasn’t sure how his team would respond after being at the park so late on Friday and having to come back for a day game.
“I was worried about it,” Skole said. “ It was such a quick turnaround, playing until the wee hours of the morning and having to get back here. And it was sort of a rainy morning. Guys weren’t sure if we were gonna play or not. I’m proud of our guys.
“They played with a lot of energy. They played very relaxed and with a lot of confidence. They were able to really do some nice things.”
Riopedre led the way, going 3 for 3. Kevin Phillips had two hits, including a solo home run, his second homer of the season. It was a no-doubter that almost reached the parking lot of the nearby apartments. Jeremy Taylor also had a pair of hits.
Ethan Loosen led the Dolphins with three hits and a pair of RBIs.
In Friday’s late-night victory, Clinton Freeman pitched five scoreless innings of relief to improve to 5-1. He’s 4-0 with a .50 ERA and eight saves in 20 relief appearances.
The Bucs kept some personal streaks alive. Andrew Green has reached base in 19 consecutive games, while Derek Niesman has a 12-game hitting streak and Alex Reynolds has reached in his last 17 A-Sun games.
“We wanted to gain some momentum and play well going into next week,” Skole said. “Hopefully that will be the case.”