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Bullpen propels Cavaliers to extra inning victory

Milligan, Tenn. - Jacob Huff and Josh Blackburn combined to pitch 3.1 innings of scoreless relief as UVa-Wise (1-0) overcame five errors to post a 7-5, 12 inning victory over Milligan College (0-1) on Wednesday.

In a day that saw numerous firsts for the Cavaliers, junior right hander Danny Bates limited the Buffaloes to one hit in two scoreless innings of work in his first collegiate mound start. Despite Bates strong outing, UVa-Wise as unable to take advantage as Milligan starter Ethan Fleenor managed to work out of two jams as he stranded five base runners in the game's first two frames.

UVa-Wise cashed in on its opportunity in the third as Tyler Hutson's RBI double scored Michael McCollum who had led off the inning with a double. Steven Klaiber followed Bates with two scoreless innings of his own to keep the visitors in front 1-0 moving to the fifth inning.
In the fifth inning, Milligan College would score two runs and take the lead on only one base hit. Corey McPhereson reached base via an error and later scored on an RBI triple by Brett Mercurio. Mercurio would score the second run of the inning when Travis Weaver uncorked a wild pitch.

An inning later, the Buffaloes would extend the lead without producing a hit. Following a walk and a hit by pitch, Milligan's Sam Tarlton would lay down a sacrifice bunt advancing both men a base. Nick Loughry would then produce a run on an RBI groundout extending the lead to two at 4-2.

The remainder of the game would be a back and forth affair. UVa-Wise would cut the lead in half in its half of the seventh inning thanks to an RBI groundout by McCollum that scored Matt Murphy, Murphy was courtesy running for Meier who had led off the inning with a double. One inning later, UVa-Wise would regain the lead as Chaz Hall perfectly executed a suicide squeeze to score Brian King who reached to lead off the inning on an error. One batter later, Meier gave the Cavs the lead with an RBI single that plated Nick Ascue, Ascue was in the game as a pinch runner for Kirk Jennings.

Milligan entered the bottom half of the eighth inning trailing 4-3, the host responded with a run to send the game to the ninth knotted a four as McPherson found a hole in the right side of the infield for a two-out RBI single to score pinch runner Jose Sanchez.

In the ninth inning, UVa-Wise regained the lead on an RBI sacrifice fly off the bat of Ryan Apodaca. The Cavs appeared to have won the game in the last half of the ninth when freshman Cody Jewell induced a ground ball with two outs; however, the throw was errant and Milligan tied the game at five.

With two men on and two out, Jacob Huff entered the game. The freshman right hander would eventually throw 2.1 scoreless innings to keep the game tied at five as the game progressed to the top of the 12th inning. In the 12th, freshman Blake Eurue started the inning with an opposite field base hit. Following a sacrifice bunt from Apodaca, Chaz Hall lined a base hit to left-center field to plate Eure. Ty Lighton would add an insurance run later in the frame when his RBI ground out scored Hall.

Freshman Josh Blackburn was the final player left in the UVa-Wise bullpen and the right hander was summoned for the bottom of the inning. Blackburn was up to the task as he retired Milligan in order to earn his first collegiate save.

In total, six players made their UVa-Wise debut while Eure and Apodca produced their first hits. On the mound, Bates, Jewell, Huff, and Blackburn all made their inaugural Cavalier appearance while Huff posted his first win and Blackburn his first save.

UVa-Wise will continue its road trip this weekend when the club visits Edward Walters for a four game series. The series kicks off on Saturday when the two schools club square off in a double header.

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