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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 17, 2011) â€" The ETSU baseball team is set to begin the 2011 season this Friday at 3:05 p.m. as the Bucs host Marist at Cardinal Park in a three-game series.
Game two of the series is slated for 2:05 p.m. Saturday, while first pitch of Sundayâ€™s contest will be at 1:05 p.m.
Marist is coming off of their second straight 30-win season, but will be missing their top two offense threats from a year ago. The Red Foxes hit .317 as a team in 2010 with 109 doubles and 31 home runs and also posted a team ERA of 5.96.
Fans are invited to take part in the different promotions this weekend at Cardinal Park. Saturday is Crazy Beanie Day. Any fans who wear a crazy toboggan will receive admission for only a Buc ($1). Sunday is "Used equipment day" with fans receiving admission for only a Buc ($1) with the donation of used baseball equipment to help benefit The Boys and Girls Club.
2011 Season Preview
A year after posting the most wins in school history since 1982, the 2011 Buccaneer baseball team is looking to claim its first conference championship under head coach Tony Skole. The Bucs are loaded returning nine starters and eight pitchers from last season including Atlantic Sun Player of the Year Paul Hoilman and All-Conference selections in Derek Trent and Bo Reeder. ETSU posted the best offensive numbers in the schoolâ€™s history in 2010, and even with the new bats the Bucs are looking to match those numbers with a potent lineup from top to bottom.
The Bucs have brought in some quality arms to bolster a pitching staff that returns four of the five top arms from a year ago. Among the ETSU newcomers are John Long, Clinton Freeman, Dylan Pratt and Dak Rissman. The Bucs also have an outstanding sophomore class as Kerry Doane, Andrew Green, Derek Niesman, Michael Gonzalez, Scott McNally and Derek Bushey all have a year of competition under their belt.
ETSU will have a tough road in 2011 as the Bucs will face a schedule of opponents that posted a combined winning percentage of over .520 in 2010 including five NCAA tournament teams. The Bucs open with their first seven games at home before going on the road for eight of the next nine games including the conference opener against USC Upstate. ETSU will host conference contenders Florida Gulf Coast and Jacksonville. The Buccaneer conference road schedule will be tough with games at UNF, Belmont and Mercer.
2010 Johnny Bench Award Finalist Derek Trent returns for his senior season behind the plate. Trent spent the last two years as the ETSU starting catcher and had an outstanding junior campaign that saw him hit .348 with 13 home runs and 66 RBI. The senior also had an outstanding defensive season throwing out a league leading 23 base runners. The Bucs are the deepest they have ever been at catcher in 2011 with Skyler Barnett, Zach Waters and Steven Monger all capable of stepping in and making a start. Both Barnett and Waters can add a power bat and good defense, while Monger is a very athletic catcher.
ETSU returns all four starters from the infield from 2011. Senior All-American Paul Hoilman will anchor the Bucs at first base after having one of the best individual seasons in the programâ€™s history in 2010. Hoilman hit a league best .421 with 25 home runs and 84 RBI while leading the country in slugging (.860). Currently, Hoilman is the active leader in the A-Sun in home runs (51) and is on pace to break the conference record for career home runs, RBI and runs.
Up the middle for the Bucs, sophomores Kerry Doane and Derek Niesman will look to improve upon good freshman campaigns as Doane hit .335 with 23 doubles, nine home runs and 58 RBI at shortstop, while Niesman hit .265 with three home runs and 26 RBI at second base. Doane has exceptional range and a strong arm and was one of the toughest Bucs to strike out in 2010. Niesman is also a good fielder and can be used at either second or third base and has an explosive bat like many of the ETSU starters. Backing up Doane and Niesman in the infield will be Corey McPherson and Alex Reynolds. McPherson can play both short and second base if needed and offers a good defensive backup, while Reynolds has improved from his freshman season and offers another big lefty bat for the Buccaneers.
At third for ETSU will be junior all-conference selection Bo Reeder. Reeder is a .349 career hitter at ETSU and posted 20 home runs and 61 RBI in 2010 as he finished second on the team in average (.357), runs (70), hits (89), triples (3), home runs and slugging (.663).
The deepest position on the ETSU squad is the outfield, with five players back from last yearâ€™s team that have made starts for the Bucs. Matthew Scruggs will continue to anchor the Buccaneers in centerfield after hitting .344 a year ago with 21 doubles, a team best four triples, 13 home runs and 61 RBI. Scruggs is very good defensively and should reach double digits in steals in 2011. Also making strong cases to start in the outfield are returners Andrew Green, Cory Betterson and Michael Gonzalez. Both Green and Betterson are good defenders that can cover a lot of ground with great speed and are a threat on the base paths, while Gonzalez offers the Bucs a power lefty bat and a strong arm in the outfield. Also in the mix for the Bucs are junior transfers Dylan Pratt and John Long as well as freshman Clinton Freeman. Pratt, a local native, brings another big righty bat to the Buccaneers and should be a fixture in the ETSU batting order, while both Long and Freeman have good range in the outfield and can also be threats for ETSU at the plate.
The Buccaneer rotation will look a little different in 2011 as the Bucs have added John Long and Clinton Freeman with Bo Burton on the weekends. Burton had an outstanding 2010 season leading the team with nine wins and a 4.22 ERA. The crafty sidewinder logged the second most appearances for ETSU a year ago seeing action in 31 games. Long has great stuff with good command and will be looked to help carry the pitching staff, while Freeman has had some great outings for the Buccaneers in the fall and spring, and will be the Bucs first lefty starter in several years. Also battling to get into the weekend rotation are Ben Booker, Derek Bushey and Bret Gallihugh. Booker had arguably the second best year on staff in 2010 going 6-2 on the year in 88.1 innings. Bushey comes into the season with a full year of experience under his belt as the sophomore showed some signs of brilliance in 2010, while Gallihugh, a freshman, has improved his stuff lately and could see a couple starts in the mid week.
Sophomore Scott McNally and junior transfer Dak Rissman are expected to be the top middle relievers for the Bucs, while Bo Reeder has moved from being a starter into the closers role. Also coming out of the pen will be lefties Lee Hall and Kyle Watson and righties Zach Waters, Logan Rice. Gallihugh and Bushey also can be used in relief for the Bucs as this yearâ€™s bullpen should be one of the best in several years and will offer favorable matchups for the Bucs as they have one of the deepest pitching groups that they have had under coach Skole.
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