Presnell delivers offensive goods as Paladins top Bucs

By Matt Hill
STAR STAFF
mhill@starhq.com

   JOHNSON CITY -- Ryan Presnell's coming-home party ended up being a blast.
   The Furman Paladin outfielder and former Elizabethton High School standout went 4-for-4 with a walk en route to leading his team to a 9-4 triumph over East Tennessee State at Howard Johnson Field.
   "I wanted to have a good game today," Presnell said. "I felt like I hadn't really done what I can do the past couple of days. Our backs were against the wall, and pretty much everybody on the team stepped up today. We played solid all-around.
   Presnell's Paladins were fighting for a Southern Conference Tournament berth coming in. The win leapfrogs Furman to the sixth spot, while the Bucs have to settle for eighth.
   Presnell felt like he needed to make some changes going into this crucial game.
   "I felt like my game today I made a good adjustment at the plate," Presnell said. "I shortened up, and almost took like a two-strike swing the entire day. I did what I needed to do. I'm glad it happened, but I'm really glad it happened here in front of family and friends."
   Presnell may have turned the tide around in this contest with his double in the top of the fourth that scored two runs to give Furman the lead for good at 2-1.
   The Paladins went on to score three more runs in the inning, and Furman held a commanding 5-1 advantage after four innings.
   "This is definitely going to be the highlight of my career for my senior year," Presnell said.
   The only problems that Presnell ran into were on the basepads. In the second inning, he was thrown out at home on a bullet throw by Matt Traylor.
   Presnell's misfortunes on the basepads continued in the top of the fifth. After hitting his second double of the day, Presnell was picked off at second, but it looked like he was in safely.
   "I'll take the fifth on that one," Presnell said when a reporter asked if he was safe. "That's baseball, and you go on and play the rest of the game. You can't really dwell on that."
   The Bucs did rally in the bottom of the sixth. RBI hits by Jeremy Terry and Brandon Cross cut Furman's lead to 5-3. Then a Michael Giroud double play ball scored Terry to make it a 5-4 contest.
   But that's as close as ETSU would get, as Presnell came up big again in the top of the seventh. Presnell's single scored Derek Norman to give the Paladins a 6-4 advantage.
   Furman added one more in that frame, and two in the ninth. The Bucs couldn't get on the board anymore, and the Paladins took the victory.
   "It's a big disappointment," ETSU head coach Tony Skole said.
   Skole is disappointed about the fact the loss pits them against top-seeded The Citadel in the first round of the Southern Conference Tournament, which begins this week in Charleston.
   "We wanted to be the dangerous team going in," Skole said. "And now we've put ourselves in just a difficult, difficult situation having to play The Citadel in the first round of the tournament in front of about 6,000 people down there in its home park."
   The Bucs started Jackson Simerly, but he was pulled in the fourth after Furman exploded. Donnie Sharp, Josh Kite and Jarrod Hyder finished things up for the Bucs.
   Jeff Stovall got the win for Furman.
   Kirk Keithley and Brandon Cross each went 3-for-4 to top the Buccaneers.