TYLER -- Nick Clifton's four RBI's helped lift the UT Tyler baseball team to a 7-4 victory over East Texas Baptist on Friday evening in team's first American Southwest Conference contest of the season. The Patriots improve to 16-0 on the year.
The Tigers pushed across the first run of the game in the top of the second inning. A successful hit-and-run placed runners at the corners with one out before Graham John grounded into a fielder's choice to plate Tristen Cooksey.
The Patriots answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning. Justin Juneau singled to start things off and scored on a triple by Clifton. T.J. Martin batted next and scored Clifton on a single to center.
UT Tyler added three more runs in the third inning beginning when Jordan Vierra doubled down the left field line to lead off the inning and was followed by Jake Ashely who walked. A fielder's choice by David Ring moved Vierra to third. Vierra then scored on a double by Aaron McCain. Clifton pushed across the final runs of the inning with a double to right-center to give the Patriots a 5-1 lead.
ETBU cut the Patriots' lead to two with two runs in the top of the fourth. UT Tyler starter Korey Cleveland hit Cooksey with a pitch to begin the frame and walked Cayden Cunniff. Stephen Wostal batted next and reached on a fielder's choice. Cooksey, however, scored on the play due to a throwing error by Vierra at second base. Wostal later scored in the inning on a single by Jeremy Phillips.
Pitching took over the next two innings as both teams allowed a combined two hits.
The Tigers made things interesting in the seventh inning when they made the score 5-4 on a squeeze play that scored K.C. Carroll.
The Patriots, however, posted two runs in the bottom of the inning to take a three run lead. Ashley walked to lead off the inning and later scored on a single by Clifton. Juneau also scored in the inning while the Tigers had Clifton in a run-down.
Brian Shore came in to pitch for the Patriots in the eighth and worked his way out of a jam when ETBU had two runners on and no outs, but failed to score. Shore closed the game out in the ninth to record his first save of the year.
Cleveland picked up his fourth win of the season, pitching seven innings and allowing two earned runs.
The Patriots and Tigers face each other again Saturday afternoon for a doubleheader scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.