Saturday, May 25, 2013

Skole's Past Helping in ETSU's Present

Tony Skole knows clutch batting.

In 1990, Skole then a sophomore for The Citadel was a major part of the Bulldogs’ squad that reached the College World Series in Omaha after defeating Miami, 4-1, in Coral Gables. The starting third baseman for the team, Skole and teammate Chris Coker both hit homers in the Atlantic Regional title game vs. the Hurricanes to send the Bulldogs to Rosenblatt Stadium

After an opening loss to LSU in Omaha, The Citadel and Skole rallied from a 4-1 deficit against Cal State Fullerton to capture an 8-7 win. Skole went 2-for-6 in that game with two RBIs with a go-ahead run in the 10th inning, but the Titans rallied to tie the game and extend the contest.

However, Skole came to the plate once again in the 12th inning and gave Citadel the lead for good with his second RBI single of the contest and lock up the Bulldogs’ victory in front of 5,000 fans in attendance at Rosenblatt Stadium.

“I remember everything about that season,” Skole said. “From the conference championship, the regional championship, to the sights, sounds and smells of Omaha, not much of that has faded at all.”

Fast-forward twenty-three years, Skole – now the Head Coach at ETSU - is leading the Buccaneers to its second Atlantic Sun Championship Final as ETSU has captured two extra-inning triumphs – the first A-Sun team to do so in tournament history – after trailing in both games.

No one in attendance at Conrad Park should have expected a different outcome than another dramatic finish to ETSU’s contest against USC Upstate. The Buccaneers trailed twice to the Spartans before fighting back in the fourth and eighth innings.

Eventually, senior Andrew Green sent the Bucs to the conference finale with a RBI single to right field in the bottom of the ninth inning.

“I’m proud of our guys, we hung in there against USC Upstate and found a way to get it done late.” Skole said of his resilient team. “Upstate played well and David Roseboom pitched a great ballgame and made it tough on us early, but our guys hung in there and we had some quality at-bats late in the game.”

Now, ETSU has the chance to capture its first-ever A-Sun Championship title and head to the NCAA Regionals for the first time in program history since 1981.

“We’ve only been here a couple times in the history of ETSU so it’s exciting,” added Skole. “I’m proud of our kids they have worked hard to get to this point and they deserve every bit of it, but we still have a little bit of work to do.”

Green, a second team all-conference outfielder, has been under the tutelage of Skole for four seasons since arriving in Johnson City from Powell, Tenn. as a freshman in 2010.

“I hope I have made an impact,” Green said of his role with the team. “We have a lot of young guys playing so I think my leadership and my experience have made an impact on them on and off the field.”

With the automatic bid on the line tomorrow, Green and the entire ETSU roster are excited about the possibilities that lay ahead for them.

“This team knows its identity,” Skole said. “We’ve really stressed this season that everyone is going to have the opportunity to rise to the occasion and win a ballgame for us.”

No matter how the rest of the A-Sun Championship plays out, Coach Skole and ETSU know that these lasting memories won’t fade anytime soon.

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