ETSU's Derek Niesman, left, celebrates with Alex Reynolds.
DeLAND, Fla. — The East Tennessee State baseball team figured if it kept sending runners toward the plate, eventually some of them would score.
Alex Reynolds’ two-run single in the bottom of 11th inning gave the Bucs a 4-3 victory over Stetson in the first round of the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament Wednesday in a game in which ETSU had three runners thrown out at home plate in extra innings.
“It feels great,” Reynolds said. “We had tons of chances. I got a pitch up and just stroked it up the middle. We’re gonna enjoy this one for a couple hours, go back to hotel room and get some rest.”
Fourth-seeded ETSU (33-22) will play top-seeded Mercer (43-14), which beat USC Upstate 12-6, in a winner’s bracket game today at 8:15 p.m. Fifth-seeded Stetson (26-30) will face No. 8 Upstate (26-29) in an elimination game at 1:15 p.m.
Today’s schedule underwent some changes after rain and lightning forced delays in the action after the ETSU game.
After Stetson took a 3-2 lead in the top of the 11th on James Rasmussen’s two-out single, the Bucs were back in business when Dylan Tritsch led off with a single and Andrew Green walked. After Clinton Freeman struck out, pinch-hitter Tyler Roach walked to load the bases. Derek Niesman then bunted back to the mound, and Tritsch was forced at the plate.
That brought Reynolds to the plate, and his two-out hit won it for the Bucs.
“It was great win,” ETSU coach Tony Skole said.” I’m really proud of our guys. We just weren’t very opportunistic on the offensive side. We left a lot of runners on and we blew some chances, but Alex Reynolds picked us up.”
In the bottom of the 10th, the Bucs had the winning run thrown out at the plate twice. Mason Hershey fouled off several pitches before singling to center, and Reynolds tried to score the winning run, but was thrown out at home on a play that wasn’t even close. The next batter, Jeremy Tayor singled over second base, and Chris Riopedre tried to end it, only to be cut down at home to end the inning.
Kerry Doane worked nine innings for the Bucs, allowing seven hits and two runs. Freeman (6-1) earned the victory with two innings of relief.
ETSU had a 2-0 lead in the sixth inning before Rasmussen’s two-out, two-run double tied it up.
Reynolds finished with three hits, as did Taylor and Tritsch. Green had two stolen bases to tie the ETSU career record of 75.