Golden Eagles rally late, but fall at East Tennessee

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – It was an unusual pitchers battle in Johnson City Wednesday night, as East Tennessee State used nine different pitchers, one in each inning, holding Tech to just four earned runs, topping the Golden Eagles, 11-8. The Golden Eagles, on the other hand, got four-plus innings from starter Matthew Shepherd, who allowed just two runs, on five hits.

Ryan Dennick (1-2) came in and pitched 2.2 innings, allowing six runs, five earned, and took the loss for the Golden Eagles. A.J. Kirby-Jones pitched the final 1.1 innings, allowing one hit and no runs. Cookeville native Bo Reeder (3-3) got the win for ETSU.

The Golden Eagles (17-14) were held scoreless through five innings, and trailed 2-0 before Cory Wright blasted a two-run home run, his fourth of the year, scoring Kirby-Jones to tie the game at 2-2 in the top of the sixth.

But the tie didn’t last long, as the Bucs regained the lead in the bottom of the sixth, as two Tech miscues on a pop-up to second base helped spot ETSU a 3-2 advantage. After Tech tied it back up at three with one run off a pair of hits in the top of the seventh, ETSU (15-19) tallied eight runs in the bottom of the seventh, helped by a three-run home run by Garrett May, giving the Bucs an 11-3 lead.

The Golden Eagles cut into the deficit with one run in the eighth, and a four-run rally in the ninth, but couldn’t overcome the eight-run lead the Bucs had built.

Tech finished with 11 hits on the night, as Wright, Alex Henry, Evan Webb, and Heath Cheverton all had two hits. ETSU’s Ben Allen went 3-for-4 at the plate, and scored two runs.

The game was the second of a home-and-home series between Tech and ETSU this season. The Golden Eagles topped the Bucs 15-7 in Cookeville on April 1.

The Golden Eagles get back into Ohio Valley Conference play with a three-game series at Austin Peay on April 18 and 19. Saturday’s double header begins at 1 p.m., with a single game on Sunday at 1 p.m.