Bucs sweep Eagles

By Matt Hill
STAR STAFF
mhill@starhq.com

   JOHNSON CITY- The song "Eye of the Tiger" kept blaring through the speakers at Howard Johnson Field Sunday afternoon, but the East Tennessee State Buccaneer baseball team showed the heart of a lion in the three-game series with Georgia Southern this weekend.
   The Buccaneers, who were 1-8 in SoCon play at the start of the weekend, completed a miraculous sweep of the Eagles Sunday with a 5-4 victory over the visitors.
   "There's no doubt that was a great win for our kids, and for our program", ETSU head coach Tony Skole. "It would have been very easy for us the way our season has gone thus far for us to be satisfied after Friday night and lay down. But we came back out Saturday and scrapped, and I was really proud of our kids for the way they played today. They came out with a lot of fight, and gave us a great effort."
   It was a great effort for the Buccaneers, but it got a little hairy for them in the top half of the ninth inning.
   With Trevor Smith on the hill looking for the save, the Bucs ran into some trouble when Georgia Southern's J.R. Revere, who was also an All-Southern Conference quarterback this past season, singled home Rocky Baker to make it a 5-3 game with two men on and two outs.
   The next batter was Chad Hall, and he singled to plate Brendan Gilligan to cut the ETSU advantage down to 5-4.
   But it was not to be for the Eagles, as Chris Walker grounded to shortstop Jeremy Terry, who stepped on second to get Hall out and secured the sweep.
   Some coaches might have pulled Smith after giving up those hits , but Skole knew better.
   "He is just a great, great competitor," Skole said. "He throws strikes, and the team has got to hit the ball against him. He makes them hit it, and he's just a competitor and the guy I wanted out there."
   Sunday was Tim Turner's finest day as an ETSU baseball player.
   Turner, who also plays wide receiver for the football team, pitched eight solid innings against the Eagles.
   Turner gave up only seven hits and three runs. He pitched to one batter in the ninth, that being Baker, who ended up scoring for Turner's third earned run.
   But Skole was very proud of his pitcher, and the performance he gave on Sunday.
   "I thought Tim was a bulldog today," Skole said. "He pitched a great game."
   Turner was very grateful for his fine performance.
   "There's no way I can go out there without the Lord," Turner said. "I would have had no chance without Him. All my praise goes to Him."
   Turner was glad he could be a part of the amazing sweep.
   "Great victory," Turner said. "This weekend felt so good. I was just glad I got a chance to contribute."
   The Bucs went ahead for good in the bottom of the sixth inning when Michael Giroud broke a 2-2 tie with a single to left, coupled with a fielding error by Revere to score Kirk Keithley. That gave ETSU a 3-2 advantage.
   The Bucs added two runs in the seventh, and held on from there.
   Giroud had an unbelievable day for the Bucs. He was 4-for-4 with three RBI's.
   "It was just a good situation to be hitting in," Giroud said. "Most of the time I got up with runners in scoring position with less than two outs. I just tried to put the ball in play more or less. Luckily, they got through."
   The Bucs played Clemson and Tennessee tough earlier in the week, and Giroud thought those games gave them some confidence heading into the series with powerhouse Georgia Southern.
   "We got to see a lot of good talent," Giroud said. "Coming into the Georgia Southern series, we knew they were one of the top teams in the Conference. It just prepared us very well to play that good competition."
   Matt Traylor, who had the game-winning hits in Friday and Saturday's games for ETSU, had two hits on the day. A.J. Zickgraf went 3-for-3 to top Georgia Southern.
   The Bucs will be back in action Tuesday night at home against Middle Tennessee State.