NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mar. 29, 2012) — Riding a three-game winning streak, the ETSU (14-9, 3-3 A-Sun) baseball team will look to stay hot with an A-Sun road series at Lipscomb (10-16, 3-3 A-Sun) beginning on Friday at Dugan Field.
Friday’s first pitch will begin at 7 p.m. (ET) with Saturday’s start set for 3 p.m. (ET) and Sunday’s finale at 2 p.m. (ET). Each game will be broadcasted live on 640 WXSM – The Extreme Sports Monster and online at ETSUBucs.com with John Stevens on the call.
John Long (Anderson, S.C.) (4-2, 3.80 ERA) will start for the Bucs in Friday’s opener and will be opposed by Lipscomb’s Connor Sinclair (3-1, 2.87 ERA). Long has dropped his last two outings, but has given solid efforts in both starts. He leads the squad in wins, while leading the A-Sun in innings pitched with 45.0 this season. He earned the victory last season against the Bison after going eight strong, while just allowing one run. Sinclair is coming off his third victory of the year in which he pitched 6.2 solid innings, while allowing just six hits and two runs against Mercer.
Saturday’s matinee will pit ETSU junior Derek Bushey (Richmond, Va.) (2-2, 3.60 ERA) against Lipscomb lefty Blake Fonfara (2-3, 6.29 ERA). Bushey was stellar in his last outing – a 7-2 victory over Florida Gulf Coast last Saturday in which he tossed seven scoreless innings, while striking out a career-high nine batters and allowing just two hits. Fonfara had a solid outing last season against the Bucs, but picked up the loss after going five innings with six hits, two runs, three walks and four strikeouts.
The Sunday series finale will match ETSU right-hander Jake Long (Anderson, S.C.) (2-1, 2.21 ERA) against Lipscomb righty Josh Cotham (1-2, 3.31 ERA). Long is coming off his strongest performance of the year as he tossed a career-high eight innings with a career-best eight strikeouts, while only allowing four hits.
The Bucs are coming off a 7-2 home victory against Radford on Tuesday in which they pounded out 12 hits. Starter Jimmy Nesselt (Plantation, Fla.) allowed just two runs, while striking out a career-high five batters to earn his second straight victory. Will Carter (Johnson City, Tenn.) pitched four innings of scoreless relief to earn his first career save. Derek Niesman (Wellington, Fla.), Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.), Dylan Pratt (Johnson City, Tenn.) and Andrew Green (Powell, Tenn.) led the Bucs at the plate with two hits each. Pratt and Green each had two RBI on the afternoon. Freeman, Kerry Doane (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) and Mason Hershey (Altoona, Pa.) each had an RBI for the Bucs. Hershey got an RBI on his first home run of the season.
ETSU claimed its first conference series of the season last weekend when it took two out of three at Florida Gulf Coast. The Bucs dropped the series opener before picking up victories in the final two contests of the weekend. The ETSU pitching staff allowed just four earned runs (1.33 ERA) for the entire series.
The Buccaneer pitchers have been tremendous as they currently rank second in the A-Sun in team ERA (3.28), while leading the league in opposing batting average (.229). The Buccaneer staff has also allowed the fewest hits (172), runs (98), earned runs (75) and walks (62) in the league so far this season. ETSU has not allowed more than five earned runs in a game in its last 12 games.
Lipscomb heads into the weekend after dropping two midweek contests against UT-Martin and Evansville. However, the Bison picked up an impressive conference sweep of Mercer last weekend at home. Lipscomb is a solid 10-6 at home, but is 0-10 away from Dugan Field.
The Bison are led at the plate by Zak Messer as he leads the team in just about every offensive category, including batting average (.346), hits (36), doubles (12), home runs (seven) and RBI (26). Meanwhile, Lee Wilson (.321) and Aaron Sandoval (.306) are each batting over .300 with a combined three homers and 22 RBI.
ETSU and Lipscomb have met a total of 26 times with each team winning 13 games. However, the Bucs have won the last five games in the series, including a three-game sweep in Johnson City last season.
ETSU will travel to Boone, N.C. to face Appalachian State in a non-conference game on Tuesday at 6 p.m. before hosting North Florida for a three-game series at Thomas Stadium beginning on Thursday.
For more information on ETSU baseball please visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the baseball link.