Eagles claw Bucs

By Ivan Sanders

   JOHNSON CITY--East Tennessee State and Georgia Southern are two teams entering the final regular-season series with two completely opposite goals in mind.
   For Georgia Southern, taking the series with the Bucs sets them in good position for second place in the conference, while ETSU needs to take the series to have a shot at collecting the eighth slot in the tournament.
   Round one went to the Eagles of Georgia Southern as they blasted the Bucs 14-4 on Thursday night at Cardinal Park in a game that was delayed for 53 minutes in allowing a thunderstorm to pass through the area.
   The Eagles wasted little time in pouncing on starting pitcher Tim Turner, as they touched the dish four times in the top of the first inning on three hits and an error.
   Mother Nature gave Turner and his teammates an opportunity to regroup as the third out was getting ready to be rang up in the inning.
   ETSU appeared to be ready to climb back in contention when it loaded the bases in the bottom of the first against highly touted Eagle pitcher Dennis Dove. There were at least six different major league scouts at the contest clocking the 6-4 junior hurler who entered the contest with a 6-2 record, tallying 97 strikeouts and 38 walks in 74.2 innings this season.
   Dove worked centerfielder Steven Calicutt to a full count before sitting the Bucs down on a swinging strikeout. The break seemed to do Turner good as the junior lefty cruised through the second through fourth innings, allowing only a single and double while recording five of the nine outs with Ks.
   State finally cracked the goose egg on its side of the scoreboard in the bottom of the third when designated hitter Blake Church blasted a solo home run over the left-center field fence to make the score 4-1 after four complete.
   Brandon Long led off the top of the fifth with a walk and took second on a stolen base, then DH Grant Burruss chased Long home with a RBI single.
   Burruss swiped second and advanced to third on a ground out by Greg Dowling. A Turner wild pitch allowed Burruss to extend the edge to 6-1 after four and a half innings of play.
   The story of the night for the Bucs was their inability to drive men in after getting them on base.
   ETSU stranded 10 runners through six innings of play and 13 total for the contest. Ga. Southern drove the nail into the coffin in the top of the seventh, scoring six runs on six hits along with a Buc error, while stranding two.
   Dove pitched seven innings to pick up the win giving up one run on six hits, five walks, and nine strikeouts to push his total to 106 on the season. He also gave up five walks.
   The Bucs managed to score three times in their last at bats with two outs. Chad Boruff collected a walk, as did Church. Calicutt singled to load the bases for former Unicoi County standout Justin Benard.
   Benard delivered with a single to drive in two, making the score 14-3. Calicutt recorded the final score for the Bucs on a wild pitch by Southern pitcher Brandon Woods.
   The teams will hook up again tonight in Johnson City, with game time set at 7.
   ETSU needs for Greensboro to sweep a doubleheader today from Davidson if there is to be a chance for the Bucs to stay in contention for the final slot in the tournament.