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Radford’s Comeback Falls Short Against Out of Conference Foe ETSU

By Austin White | awhite26@radford.edu 

After losing to Appalachian State University the day before, Radford’s baseball team came into this game losing five in a row at home. Desperate for a win, Eastern Tennessee State came into the game with a 14-10 record after losing three games in a row to Mercer University.

After fouling out the first batter and walking the second, freshman pitcher Ryan Bywaters made his first mistake. Redshirt junior shortstop Chris Cook cracked a curveball out the park to score himself and freshman Ben Jackson.

With a 2-0 lead in the first inning, ETSU sent out redshirt junior Daniel Sweeney to start the game. He faced redshirt junior Kyle Butler. He threw two strikes back to back, and his third pitch left Butler looking.

The next two outs are credited to the infield as sophomore third basemen scooped up redshirt junior Colby Higgerson’s bunt and threw it to senior first basemen Christian Bailey for the out. Junior Matt Roth grounded out to Cook to end the first inning.

ETSU freshman David Beam gave the Highlander’s defense fits in the top of the second inning. After being walked by Bywaters, he stole second and advanced to third after senior Hunter Parker grounded out after a full count to freshman second basemen Luke Belanger. Beam scored the only run of the inning after senior Aaron Maher sent a pitch to the wall of center field.

Radford switched pitchers and pulled junior Andrew Nardi from the bullpen. In the top of the third inning, ETSU’s batters started to see his pitches very clearly. After walking Bailey on a full count, Nardi put another man on base when senior Caleb Longley doubled near right field. Bailey scored after a ground out to first basemen Spencer Horwitz, making the game 4-0.

After walking the Beam, Nardi’s changeup was read by sophomore Cullen Smith as he sent the ball right up the line moving him to first and scoring Longley. Extending the lead again, the Highlander’s started to look frustrated which led to mistakes.

Still, in the third inning, Nardi tried to pick of Beam’s attempt to steal third, but it failed. The ball went too far left for Roth allowing Beam giving them a 6-0 lead. At the next at-bat, Smith stole third and forced another errant throw, this time from freshman catcher Will Harless extending ETSU’s lead to 7-0.

With fans beginning to leave Carter Memorial stadium the Highlanders refused to quit. Sophomore Richard De La Cruz scored their first run in the bottom of the third after Butler doubled straight down the center field. Higgerson flew out to right field scoring sophomore Carlin Christian making the game 7-2.

After giving up a third run this time scoring Butler, Sweeney was substituted out for senior Logan Gentry. The next batter, freshman Garrett Matheny, singled Sweeney’s fourth pitch of the night to score Horwitz. Gentry was able to get two more outs without scoring any more runners to end the wild inning with the score 7-4.

After a stalemate fourth inning, ETSU third basemen Cade Gilbert made a costly mistake. He With a runner on second and first he tried to pick off Belanger at second and threw it to wild advancing all runners. When right fielder Maher tried to patch things up but overthrew Maher, scoring Belanger and Matheny.

Now down by only one run, Radford continued its aggressiveness when Butler bunted to sacrifice an out to score Harless, tying the game. Gentry was then substituted out for senior Drew Korzybski.

In the top of the seventh inning, De la Cruz let a groundball go under his feet in right field scoring Beam for the third time of the game. The Highlanders scored a run of their own in the bottom of the same inning when Gilbert made another miscue allowing Horwitz ball to go under his legs to score Christian.

In the top of the eighth inning, Cook scored after Longley sent Radford’s newly substituted pitcher sophomore Trey Alderman’s third pitch to him to the right side of the field for a single.

After grounding out three straight times in the eighth inning, The Highlanders looked to score in the ninth and final inning. They faced ETSU’s closer, James Giambalvo. Senior Anthony Miano singled to center field. Christian struck out swinging during the next at-bat. After walking Butler, Higgerson lined out to a double play to end the game 9-8 with ETSU securing the win.

Photo Credit: (Radford Athletics)