Buccaneer bats do in College of Charleston

By Matt Hill

   JOHNSON CITY -- The wind may not have changed directions at Howard Johnson Field on Sunday, but the momentum of the East Tennessee State-College of Charleston game sure did.
   The Bucs erased a 5-2 Cougar fifth-inning lead, then turned it up a notch to dethrone Charleston 13-6 in Southern Conference baseball action.
   "It didn't look good for a moment," ETSU head coach Tony Skole said. "But our guys battled back, and got some big hits to get us right back into the game."
   The Bucs started their rally in the bottom of the fifth, as a Brandon Cross double on the famous right-field hill scored Matt Traylor to cut the Cougar lead down to 5-3.
   After an RBI ground out by Caleb Moore made it a 5-4 contest, the Bucs tied it when Cross scored on Kirk Keithley's infield hit for the third and final run of the inning.
   That was just the beginning.
   The Bucs had two men on in the bottom of the sixth when Traylor singled to score Scott Rose to make it a 6-5 Buccaneer lead, an advantage ETSU wouldn't relinquish.
   Cross put an exclamation point on the rally with a three-run home run to make it a 9-5 contest after the sixth inning.
   "That might have been the nail on the coffin," Skole said about the home run by Cross. "Brandon's really been swinging the bat well the last couple weeks. Yesterday he didn't have much to show for it, but he was getting some pretty good swings off, he just wasn't having much luck. And today he had five RBIs, and that's a career day for him. I'm extremely proud of him."
   Traylor also bounced back from a rough Saturday by having a three-hit performance on the afternoon.
   "Matt had another good day," Skole said. "He also struggled yesterday a little bit. I don't think he had a hit. But that's what has been special about our guys the last couple of weeks is that it hasn't been just one or two guys that have been carrying us. It's been other guys stepping up at different times, so I'm extremely proud of them for that."
   The Bucs did have one more big inning in them, as they extended what was a 9-6 advantage in the Bottom of the eighth with a four-run frame that included a solo home run by Rose.
   That left former Happy Valley standout Jarrod Hyder a comfortable cushion in his second inning of relieving starter Tim Turner, and he closed out the Cougars in the ninth by retiring the side.
   "They're a talented team, and I don't think any lead is too safe with them," Hyder said. "They can hit very well."
   Hyder felt very good about his performance on Sunday, especially after pitching out of an eighth-inning jam.
   "The eighth inning was real tough there," Hyder said. "We definitely needed to work out of that to keep the momentum on our side. The ninth just went by pretty easy. We scored a lot of runs, and they might have gotten down a little bit. But as I said no lead is too safe with them."
   Turner did get the win for the Bucs, while Charlie Wentsky took the loss in a game that saw the Cougars use six pitchers.
   Keithley also had three hits for ETSU. Cross and Taylor both had two hits for the Bucs.
   Brett Spivey went 3-for-4 to top College of Charleston.
   The Bucs will be back in action Tuesday night against Virginia Tech in the Kingsport Baseball Classic at Hunter Wright Stadium for a 7 p.m. contest. The festivities begin at 3:30 p.m. with the Johnson County Longhorns playing the Sullivan North Golden Raiders in a high school clash.
   Skole is looking forward to the event.
   "We're just excited to be involved in that event," Skole said. "We're very fortunate that the city of Kingsport has invited us to participate in it. It will be a great event for our kids, and we're looking forward to competing against Virginia Tech and the tradition-rich program that it has."
   The Bucs have now won eight out of their last nine Southern Conference games to even their league mark to 9-9. ETSU is now 16-22 overall.