Adam Scott talked his way into going back out there for the eighth inning and talked his way into staying there during a mound meeting after he had allowed a couple of hits.
Then another hit and he knew it was done.
His night, his regular season and his home career as a Wofford pitcher.
Scott walked slowly toward the dugout for the last time, receiving congratulations from his teammates and applause from the fans until he had long disappeared from view.
He was the winning pitcher Thursday night as the Terriers beat East Tennessee State, 8-4, at Russell C. King Field in the opener of a three-game series.
“I argued to go back out for one more inning. I didn’t want to be done,” Scott said. “I went out there knowing it was my last inning and the last time I would be taking the mound here. Sure, it was emotional. This place has been special to me.”
Scott, the 6-foot-4 senior left-hander from Canandaigua, N.Y., is Wofford’s all-time strikeouts leader and in fact is the NCAA’s active leader in that statistic. He seems sure to be the highest draft pick ever from the college next month and there were about a dozen pro scouts documenting his every move.
They had questions, as did Wofford head coach Todd Interdonato, honestly, and maybe even Scott himself, about how he would bounce back from a couple of sub-par outings. In his last start, he had given up nine runs in four innings against VMI.
“It’s no secret,” Scott said, “that I’ve had two of my rougher outings (also one against Samford) coming in here tonight.”
Interdonato didn’t hold back in a pre-game discussion with his ace.
“I felt like he had a lot to prove tonight and I told him that,” Interdonato said. “I felt like we were going to find out how tough he was. I didn’t just say that to motivate him. I really believed it.
“Against Samford, he didn’t have his best stuff. Against VMI, he got slammed around the yard. He was coming back with a lot on his plate. He’s taking finals, he’s ready to graduate, ETSU is a good team and we need a win. There was just a lot on him.”
Wofford (34-20, 14-8 Southern Conference) is now locked in to at least the No. 3 seed of the tournament, which begins Tuesday in Greenville. The Terriers can still earn the No. 2 seed if they win two more games this weekend than second-place Samford wins against VMI. The series continues 3 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday.
Scott allowed 10 hits, one short of the season-high of 11 last time against VMI, but they were all singles and ETSU wasn’t able to piece them together. Until the eighth, the Buccaneers managed just one unearned run. They struck out eight times.
“I think it was a step in the right direction,” Scott said. “I gave up 10 hits and I still wasn’t my normal self. But I was able to make adjustments. Each inning, I felt a little more aggressive. I pitched around the hits enough and scattered them around enough. I think I showed flashes of being sharp again.”
Mack Nathanson hit a three-run homer to center field in the fifth inning against a stiff breeze, 10-12 mph blowing straight in, to give Wofford a 4-1 lead.
“Dead-center into the teeth of that wind,” Interdonato said. “As the ball came off his bat, I thought to myself, ‘It would be a shame if that thing stays in the yard.’ ”
Colin Davis hit a solo blast to left in the sixth. Wofford added two in the seventh on an RBI ground-out by McClain Bradley and a single by Andrew Orzel. In the eighth, a sacrifice fly plated Max McDougald.
McDougald had an RBI single in the second inning to knock in Lawson Hill, who had a two-out double, and finished 2-for-2 with a pair of walks. Alex Cargin was 2-for-3 with a walk and run scored. Nathanson had two hits and scored twice. Rodriguez was on base three times with a pair of walks. Relief pitcher Jake Hershman got the last five outs.
“It was just really cool that we played well enough for Adam to win,” Interdonato said. “Tonight, what I thought was great was that we protected him. His teammates protected him. We played good defense, Lawson (Hill) caught really well for him, we scraped together some runs with two outs, we gave him a lead and then Jake came in and protected him until the end.”