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Freeman does it again for Bucs

April 22nd, 2014 11:15 pm by Trey Williams

Freeman does it again for Bucs

East Tennessee State’s Clinton Freeman gave a record crowd a record-tying performance.

The senior first baseman-closer homered and got the save for the second time this season against Tennessee and the Buccaneers completed a home-and-home season sweep of the Volunteers with a 9-7 victory on Tuesday.

Freeman’s save, which came in front of a Thomas Stadium-record crowd (1,811), was the 19th of his career and ties him for first on ETSU’s career list with Bo Reeder.

“That’s pretty good company right there, Bo Reeder,” Freeman said. “I remember my freshman year when he’s doing that. … He was doing a little bit different than me. He was pumping 94 (mph) in there.”

The Vols (25-14), coming off a win against No. 8 Alabama, made Freeman battle for the save. He allowed two runs in two innings, but got Scott Price to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play with a runner on first.

“You give up two runs there at the end; you don’t wanna do it, but you know, I got behind in some counts and missed with a couple of pitches here and there,” Freeman said. “But that’s gonna happen. The main thing is, you know, when you are getting hit, figure a way to get out of it. … I threw a good pitch there at the end to get that double play.”

Freeman was 1-for-3 with two walks. He hit a solo home run to center field during a two-run fourth that gave the Bucs a 6-3 lead.

Freeman’s home run was his Atlantic Sun-leading 10th of the season. He hit a three-run home run against Jacksonville on Saturday, and delivered a two-run home run and got the save in the Bucs’ 2-1 win at Tennessee on April 1.

“He’s a good player,” Tennessee coach Dave Serrano said. “I’m just confused why he’s not – I want to say this in the right way – I respect the fact that he’s here at East Tennessee; if I was here at Tennessee, he would’ve been wearing the orange, I hope, because he’s a pretty darn good player. Not just offensively, but you could tell in his mentality on the mound, too.”

Indeed, Freeman looked like Greg Maddux while fielding his position in the eighth. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound southpaw got off the mound quickly to field Vincent Jackson’s chopper and tag him along the first base line for the second out, and nimbly fielded a bunt near the third-base line and made a strong throw to get Johnny Youngblood and retire the side.

“He’s had an unbelievable career,” ETSU coach Tony Skole said. “He’s an All-American and he deserves every bit of success he gets, because he’s just a great young man. I thought what he did tonight was quite remarkable. He hits the home run. He plays great defense.

“I thought the two plays he made in the eighth on the tag play at first and then the bunt there – that shows what kind of baseball player he is. He rises to the occasion.”

ETSU took a 1-0 lead in the first. Jeremy Taylor led off by extending his hitting streak to eight games with a line single to center, and scored on Chris Riopedre’s sacrifice fly.

Freshman third baseman Chris Cook drew an 11-pitch walk after Taylor’s single, and in what looked like a sign of respect, UT starter Bret Marks bounced a 3-1 pitch to Freeman to load the bases with none out and set the stage for Riopedre.

Freeman walked on four pitches in his following at-bat after Cook had walked to lead off what turned out to be a three-run third for the Bucs. That frame was highlighted by Kevin Phillips’ two-run double down the third-base line.

Cook, a former Dobyns-Bennett quarterback whose father Donnie was an All-Southern Conference defensive back, also had an RBI single and a line-out. He leads the Bucs with 17 walks.

“Maybe they’re worried a little bit about me behind him, but I’m telling you, he gives teams fits,” Freeman said. “It’s gonna be really interesting when he keeps getting in the weight room and getting stronger, because he’s a player. He’s very good. To have an 11-pitch walk … it’s hard for seniors to do that, let alone freshmen.”

The Vols outhit ETSU 12-10, but issued six walks while drawing two.

“I think the difference in tonight’s game was the free passes,” Serrano said. “I didn’t think we pitched with a presence tonight. Their guys pitched with a presence. We got to see some of their weekend guys get some work in, and give credit to them – they did what they had to do to come out on top.”

Tyler Roach also homered for ETSU, a solo shot to lead off the sixth. Roach finished 3-for-5 with two RBIs.

ETSU committed three errors, but the defense shined frequently.

Taylor made a difficult diving catch in left-center field to rob Price in the second inning. Buccaneers second baseman Trey York made a tough play to his right to deny A.J. Simcox a hit in the first inning. Matt Sorrow threw out leadoff batter Will Maddox attempting to steal second after Maddox led off the fifth with a single.

The Volunteers appear to bring out the best in the Bucs. ETSU (20-18) was won seven of the past 10 and nine of 14.

“They’re a good ballclub,” Freeman said. “I think they give us a little bit more respect now. You know, they swept us last year. … Today, I really think they came in ready to play, and I think their coach really talked to them before the game about beating us, honestly. He didn’t want to come in here and lose (with) a crowd like this. I mean, they gave us their best shot tonight. …

“Can they beat us? Yes, they can. Do we have their number? Maybe so this year. I don’t know. But I know the two games that we’ve played, we played very well defensively and we’ve got some timely hits. And that’s what you need to beat good teams.”

It was a memorable night for the A-Sun. Kennesaw State beat Georgia and Jacksonville defeated Florida.

“My freshman year we had three teams playing in the … regional championship – Stetson playing South Carolina … Jacksonville playing Miami and then Belmont playing Vanderbilt,” Freeman said. “I’m disappointed that we’re getting out of the Atlantic Sun. I know we’ve gotta do it for football, but I mean, the Atlantic Sun is … no pushover league.”

Jimmy Nesselt (5-3) pitched a scoreless first for the victory. Left-handed freshman Jamin McCann pitched two scoreless innings. The teams used a combined 13 pitchers.

Unaka graduate Josh Peterson allowed two runs in two innings for the Vols. York, who finished 2-for-3 with an RBI and was hit by a pitch, greeted Peterson with a triple to the fence in right-center to lead off the fifth. Peterson did get Freeman to pop out to first to end the fifth.

York also delivered an opposite-field RBI single on what looked like a decent 1-2 pitch to give the Bucs a 4-0 lead and chase reliever Drake Owenby with one out in the third.

Nick Senzel was 3-for-4 with two RBIs for Tennessee. Jackson led off the sixth with a home run to get UT within 8-5.

Simcox (3-for-5, two runs), Christin Stewart (2-for-5, two runs, RBI double) and Maddox (2-for-5) were on base frequently.

The previous record crowd at Thomas Stadium was 1,752 when Tennessee visited last year.

“I thought there was great energy in our stadium tonight,” Skole said. “I thought the atmosphere was marvelous.”

ETSU, which has won five straight at home, hosts Radford at 7:05 tonight. UT opens a three-game series at LSU on Friday at 8 p.m.

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Earlier report

East Tennessee State’s Clinton Freeman gave a record crowd a record-tying performance.

The senior first baseman-closer homered and got the save for the second time this season as the Buccaneers completed a home-and-home season sweep against Tennessee with a 9-7 victory on Tuesday.

Freeman’s save, which came in front of a Thomas Stadium record crowd of 1,811, was the 19th of his career and ties him for first on ETSU’s career list with Bo Reeder.

“That’s pretty good company right there, Bo Reeder,” Freeman said. “I remember my freshman year when he’s doing that. … He was doing a little bit different than me. He was pumping 94 (mph) in there.”

Freeman was 1-for-3 with two walks. He hit a solo home run to center field during a two-run fourth that gave the Bucs a 6-3 lead.

Freeman hit a two-run home run and got the save in the Bucs’ 2-1 win in Knoxville on April 1.

“He’s a good player,” Tennessee coach Dave Serrano said. “I’m just confused why he’s not – I want to say this in the right way – I respect the fact that he’s here at East Tennessee; if I was here at Tennessee, he would’ve been wearing the orange, I hope, because he’s a pretty darn good player. Not just offensively, but you could tell in his mentality on the mound, too.”

Indeed, Freeman got off the mound quickly to field Vincent Jackson’s chopper and tag him along the first base line and made a good play near the third base line on Johnny Youngblood’s bunt for two of the outs in the eighth.

“He’s had an unbelievable career,” ETSU coach Tony Skole said. “He’s an All-American and he deserves every bit of success he gets, because he’s just a great young man. I thought what he did tonight was quite remarkable. He hits the home run, he plays great defense. 

“I thought the two plays he made in the eighth on the tag play at first and then the bunt there – that shows what kind of baseball player he is. He rises to the occasion.”

Freeman allowed two runs in two innings, but got Scott Price to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.

Freeman’s home run was his Atlantic Sun-leading 10th of the season. It was a good night for the A-Sun, as Kennesaw State beat Georgia and Jacksonville beat Florida.

Freeman hit a three-run home run against Jacksonville on Saturday.

Tyler Roach also homered for ETSU, a solo shot to lead off the sixth. Roach finished 3-for-5 with two RBIs.

Kevin Phillips hit a two-run double for ETSU during a three-run third. Chris Cook had an 11-pitch walk in the first. He walked twice and had an RBI single and a line-out.

Jeremy Taylor made a difficult diving catch in left-center field to rob Price in the second inning.

Nick Senzel was 3-for-4 with two RBIs for Tennessee (25-14).

Jimmy Nesselt pitched a scoreless first for the victory. The teams used a combined 13 pitchers.

ETSU hosts Radford at 7:05 tonight.

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