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Bucs score eight in first inning to ditch Rider

Jeff Birchfield • Updated Feb 23, 2020 at 9:58 PM

What a response by the East Tennessee State baseball team!

After giving up four runs in the top of the first, the Bucs answered with eight runs in the bottom of the inning on their way to a 10-4 win over Rider on Sunday at Thomas Stadium.

ETSU’s bats heated up with four singles, a triple and a double for the big outburst that put them on line for a series-clinching victory.

It came one day after another slow start had cost the Bucs (5-2) in a 7-4 loss to the Broncs (4-2).

“We got that eight-spot and it was good to see us bounce back like that,” ETSU coach Joe Pennucci said. "It’s interesting how you bounce back after that loss on Saturday where we didn’t play well at all. To bounce back after you’re down by four, that’s tough. You can easily sit back and feel sorry for yourself, but we definitely didn’t do that.”

Ethan Cady had a two-run triple to center field to highlight the first inning. He studied the tendencies of the Broncs’ pitcher Kyle Smith before taking the swing to score Cade Gilbert and Kyle Richardson.

“I saw he was hanging his change-up,” Cady said. “I knew he was going to throw the change-up after I came off the bench yesterday and hit a double off a fastball. I knew they would throw a lot of change-ups. I saw the pitch high so I took it to center field.”

The senior right fielder went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Cady scored the final run in the sixth inning. He hit a single and stole second before being plated by Jake Lyle’s single.

“On the steal, I was getting the jumps from their pitchers well,” Cady said. “I was timing up his pitching after I had reached (base) on a one-out single. He was focused on throwing strikes so I was able to get the jump and later get my team a run.”

Lyle finished 3-for-3 with two RBIs, while Noah Hill and Jackson Greer each went 2-for-4.

Drew Haynie crushed a solo home run to left field in the fifth inning and ended with two runs scored. It was Haynie’s second home run of the young season.

BUCS PITCHING

After getting off to a rough start, ETSU pitcher Landon Smiddy finished with nine hits and four runs allowed over four innings.

Relievers Matt Mercer, Joseph Acosta and Nathanial Tate only gave up one hit and one walk the rest of the way.

Junior left-hander Mercer (1-0) picked up the win, striking out five and giving up no runs or walks over three innings.

“Mercer has been through a lot. As a freshman, he got limited time,” Pennucci said. “Last year, he was one of our big bullpen pieces and this year, I think we can use him in a lot of different roles. He held them down for three innings and that was great to see.”

Broncs starter Kenny Quijano (0-1) suffered the loss after giving up four runs off two hits and two walks and not getting anyone out.

NEXT UP

ETSU will travel to face an ACC opponent for the second week in a row with a Tuesday trip to Clemson. Game time is set for 4 p.m.

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