ETSU spills Tech

By Ivan Sanders


   With two master chessman making strategic moves throughout the game, a gutsy decision by East Tennessee State's Tony Skole proved to be a checkmate against the visiting Virginia Tech Hokies and coach Chuck Hartman in the second game of the Kingsport Baseball Classic played Tuesday night at Kingsport's Hunter Wright Stadium.
   With the score tied at 4-4 in the bottom of the seventh and the inevitable forecast of seeing the Hokies super reliever Matt Dalton, who hasn't given up a run in 20 innings of relief, Skole made a decision to try and squeeze Tim Turner in from third with a 1-2 count on Justin Clear.
   The gamble paid dividends as Clear laid down a perfect bunt that scored Turner to give ETSU a big 5-4 victory.
   "What a piece of strategy by Coach Skole because we were looking for the squeeze, but not with the count being what it was," said Hokie mentor Hartman after the game. "I like seeing coaches that have kids that scrap and battle and not lazily go through the motions, it helps me go home and sleep better."
   ETSU grabbed control of the game early as in the Buc second inning, Beau Alford reached on a fielder's choice and scored after Turner laced a single that the left fielder misplayed to allow Alford to touch the dish.
   First baseman Chad Boruff then ripped a double to push the Buc edge to 2-0 as Turner plated.
   In the meantime, former Daniel Boone standout Jeremy Hall was looking to crack into the win column for the first time this season and was able to keep the Hokies off balance for the first four innings of the game, allowing only three hits to Tech.
   The Bucs added two runs in their frame of the third as Andy Howdeshell and Shane Byrne had back-to-back singles, followed by Caleb Moore with a RBI single to plate Howdeshell. Jordan Abromovitz then drove a sacrifice fly deep to left field that scored Byrne.
   Tech broke the into the scoring column in the top of the fifth as they finally managed to figure out Hall. Matt Kalish walked, Sheldon Adams picked up his second hit of the game, and both runners were sacrificed 90 feet by Tom Blaszak.
   DH Chris Stanton drove in Kalish with a 5-3 groundout and Spencer Harris took Hall deep to the wall for a triple to score Adams, making it a 4-2 Buc advantage.
   The Hokies were at it again in the seventh inning against reliever Mike Bauer, who replaced Kite in the inning after Kite pitched one inning of scoreless ball in the sixth in relief of Hall.
   Adams doubled hard for his third hit of the night. After an infield out by Blaszak, Stanton picked up his second RBI of the night to cut the lead to 4-3.
   Harris singled to advance Stanton to third where Mark Tugwell pushed a safety squeeze bunt down the first base line to score Stanton and even the score at 4-4.
   It was time for Turner to provide excitement for the Buccaneer faithful as he lashed a double to put ETSU back in business in the seventh. After Boruff advanced Turner to third with a sac. bunt, it was time for Justin Clear to put all the practice time to work as on a 1-2 count he executed the squeeze to perfection.
   "It was a good play to run and Justin can bunt very well," said Turner on the game winner. "It was huge because we had a good crowd and the community got a chance to see what we are all about and helped us get the monkey off our back in being able to beat a big school."
   Willie McKenzie came in relief of Bauer and shut the Hokies down the rest of the way to pick up a big win for ETSU and for the former Sullivan South standout and Kingsport native.
   "Tonight we executed what we have practiced on all year and I expected Justin to execute the bunt and he did a great job," said Skole after the game. "It's was our first 'Hero" game we won the way Willie McKenzie did at the end and this is exciting for us because it's the first time we've beaten a big time team like Tech since I took over here at ETSU."
   Jay Musialowski was the hard-luck loser for the Hokies. Each team collected 10 hits with Adams leading Tech with a 3 for 4 effort and Turner going a perfect 3 for 3 for ETSU.
   ETSU improves to 14-27 overall and 9-14 in conference play while the Hokies drop to 27-16 overall and 10-7 in the Big East conference.
   ETSU plays UNC Asheville in Asheville on Saturday and both teams hook back up in Johnson City Sunday with game time set for 2 p.m. each day.
   The Hokies entertain Liberty University today at 3 p.m. in Blacksburg, Va.