The second and third ranked offenses in the Atlantic Sun squared off in game two of the A-Sun Baseball Championship and it wasn’t the batter’s box that showcased the fireworks, but rather the pitching mound.
Jacksonville’s Matthew Tomshaw and ETSU’s John Long highlighted the game with 12 combined strikeouts, five hits apiece and two earned runs allowed – both by Long. However, Tomshaw came away with the win and complete game – his second of the season – to give the Bucs the 2-1 victory.
“Tomshaw was incredible today,” stated JU Head Coach Terry Alexander. “He was magnificent and that’s what you need to have in tournament play - your ace has to step up and be there for you and he was there for us today.”
A unanimous A-Sun All-Conference selection, Dan Gulbransen, who recorded the game-winning two-RBI double in the fifth inning, knew that the opening game against the Bucs (No. 32 in the RPI) would be a dogfight.
“You can’t describe what (Tomshaw) did for us today going against a good ETSU team," the sophomore said. There wasn’t much offense to be had here today so you have to scratch and claw for every run.”
Throughout the season, ETSU averaged seven runs per outing, but could only muster a run on an infield error in the fifth inning, which gave them a brief lead over the Dolphins. The win was Tomshaw’s eighth of the season, which ties him for second most in the A-Sun, but more importantly advances JU to the winners’ bracket of day two and look to claim their fourth conference title in the past nine years.
Tomshaw’s dominant performance was nearly broken up in the ninth as ETSU tallied two hits with two outs to get the JU bullpen back up into action, but the senior pitcher never faded in his confidence.
“Every outing I feel as if I can go nine innings and when ETSU got two hits in the ninth inning all I thought was they weren’t going to score.”
His thought rang true as a grounder back to the mound ended the game and put the Dolphins up against the winner of Kennesaw State and Mercer at 7 p.m.