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Wofford takes second game from ETSU, sets up Saturday showdown

Jeff Birchfield • Updated Apr 19, 2019 at 9:36 PM

It all comes down to Saturday.

Wofford defeated East Tennessee State 10-4 on Friday night at Thomas Stadium to even their weekend baseball series.

The result also tied the teams for second place in the Southern Conference standings at 7-4 heading into Saturday’s rubber match.

The Terriers, who improved to 24-17 overall, had 15 hits, including five for extra bases.

ETSU (27-11), which won the series opener 7-1 Thursday, had 16 hits. They just didn’t get many with runners in scoring position, leaving 11 stranded on base.

“We had some opportunities, had a lot of hits,” Pennucci said. “We just left a lot of guys on base.”

Landon Knack (8-1), who had won 21 straight games dating back to his days at Walters State, was saddled with the loss after giving up nine hits and seven runs over four innings. It was an unusual night for the former Science Hill star, who came into the game sporting a 2.16 earned-run average and had allowed only 17 runs over 58 1/3 innings.

“They swung the bat well and we gave them free bases,” Pennucci said. “Knack didn’t have his best stuff, but he’s been great for us all year.”

Cullen Smith, who went 3 for 5 at the plate, scored two of the Bucs’ four runs. He was driven in by Cade Gilbert’s single in the first inning and then hit a solo home run over right field with two outs in the ninth inning. He had a stolen base in the first inning, leading to the run, and talked about being aggressive on the base paths.

“I like to try to stretch that extra base,” Smith said. “It’s just aggressive baseball, but not being stupid.”

Jackson Greer also went 3 for 5, while Cade Gilbert, Sean Kearney and Ethan Cady each had two hits.

Kearney scored in the second inning off David Beam’s fielder’s choice. Jake Lyle had an RBI double in the fourth inning to score Cady for ETSU’s other run.

Zach Kirby threw four innings of relief and was tagged for six hits and three runs. Riley Maypother closed out the final inning, with the Bucs turning a double play and then a flyout to right field for the final outs.

Matty Brown was 4 for 4 with three runs scored and Hudson Byorick had three RBIs to lead Wofford.

The Terriers’ Austin Higginbotham (8-2) got the win despite giving up 12 hits over seven innings. He didn’t allow any walks and gave up just two earned runs.

SATURDAY SHOWDOWN

With the results of the first two games, it amps up the intensity for Saturday’s game scheduled for 2 p.m.

“It’s two equal teams, evenly matched, so tomorrow is a big one to pull ahead of them in the standings,” Pennucci said. “We have to keep competing.”

Smith added: “We always love playing Wofford. They’re a bunch of great guys and they compete so hard. We’re the same type of team. We can both hit. We can both hit and it’s always fun.”

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