NASHVILLE (May 30, 2013) – For just the fourth time in school history and the first since 1981, the ETSU baseball team returns to the NCAA Tournament as the Bucs take on No. 2 national seed Vanderbilt Friday night in the Nashville Regional. First pitch is set for 7 p.m., and will be televised on ESPNU.
The Bucs punched their ticket to the tournament after sweeping through the competition in the Atlantic Sun Championship last weekend in DeLand, Fla., to earn the league’s automatic bid. ETSU begins its run to Omaha on a high note as the Blue and Gold have won a season-best seven straight games and 14 of its last 18 to carry a 36-22 record into the regional. The 36 wins are tied for the third-most victories in program history.
HOW THE BUCS GOT TO NASHVILLE
- ETSU used late-inning drama to win the A-Sun Championship as the Blue and Gold won their first three games in the final at-bat before taking down Kennesaw State, 7-2, behind Kerry Doane’s (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) complete game effort in the championship game. The Bucs began the conference tournament with a 4-3 11-inning walk-off win over host Stetson as Alex Reynolds’ (Johnson City, Tenn.) two-out, two-RBI single brought in the winning run in extras, while ETSU rallied past top-seeded Mercer in its next game, 7-4. Freshman Kevin Phillips (St. Louis, Mo.) blasted a two-out solo shot in the top of the eighth to pull the Bucs even at four, while Andrew Green (Powell, Tenn.) scored the eventual game-winning run on a wild pitch in the top of the 10th to fuel a three-run inning and lift the Blue and Gold into the semifinals. Green continued the late-inning heroics in the pod championship as his walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth moved ETSU into the tournament title game by defeating USC Upstate, 4-3. From there, Doane continued his dominance despite battling strep throat and the Bucs led wire-to-wire en route to claiming their first-ever A-Sun Championship crown.
- Doane was named the Most Valuable Player after going 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA (3 ER/18.0 IP) in two starts, while Derek Niesman (Wellington, Fla.), Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.) and Reynolds also landed all-tournament team honors. For the tournament, Niesman hit .500 (8-16) with four runs scored, Reynolds was 6-for-17 (.353) with six RBI in the four games and Taylor hit .316 (6-19) with three RBI and two runs scored. Meanwhile, left-hander Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.) made two relief appearances and went 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA (1 ER/5.0 IP).
- As a team, ETSU hit .320 (47-147) and outscored the four teams, 22-12, in tournament play. On the hill, the Buccaneer pitchers posted a 2.54 ERA (11 ER/39.0 IP) with 27 strikeouts and nine walks, while holding the opposition to a .238 batting average.
ETSU IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
- ETSU is making its fourth NCAA Regional appearance in school history and the first since 1981, resulting in a span of 11,695 days since the Blue and Gold have played in the NCAA Tournament.
- Overall, the Bucs are 3-6 in NCAA Tournament play. In their last NCAA Regional appearance, back on May 24, 1981, the Bucs dropped a 6-5 decision to Mississippi State in the championship game of the Atlantic Regional, hosted by Clemson. Prior to that setback, ETSU defeated Wichita State (5-4) and Clemson (2-1) to reach the championship game, while the Bucs opened the regional with a 7-6 loss to Mississippi State.
- ETSU went 1-2 in the 1980 regional as the Bucs defeated Georgia Southern, 3-1, but lost to host Clemson (22-4) and South Carolina (8-5). The Bucs made their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 1978 as the Blue and Gold lost to North Carolina (15-1) and Memphis (5-0) in Auburn, Ala.
ETSU VS. THE NASHVILLE REGIONAL
- The Bucs are 0-3 all-time against Vanderbilt and 1-23 overall vs. Georgia Tech, while ETSU and Illinois have never met.
- The last meeting between ETSU and Vanderbilt was back on Feb. 18, 2003 when the Commodores hung on for a 5-4 win in Nashville. The first two meetings in the series were played in 1995 when Vanderbilt earned 7-2 and 10-1 victories.
- ETSU took its last meeting over then No. 8-ranked Georgia Tech back on May 17, 2011 in Atlanta. Derek Niesman’s two-RBI single in the ninth brought in the game-winning runs, as the Bucs won, 8-6.
- Despite never facing Illinois, the Blue and Gold have won four of their last six against Big Ten foes. ETSU took the series over Penn State to start the 2013 season, while also winning two of three versus 2013 conference champion Indiana a year ago.
ABOUT THE TEAMS
- Vanderbilt (51-9) won the SEC regular season title but lost to second-seed LSU in the tournament championship, 5-4 in 11 innings, on Sunday afternoon in Hoover, Ala. This marks the second time in the last three years the Commodores will be hosting a regional and the third time in program history. Vanderbilt is making its 12th NCAA appearance as the Commodores are 29-23 all-time in postseason play, while making one trip to the College World Series in 2011. The Commodores rank seventh in the country in batting average (.317), eighth in stolen bases (126), 11th in hits (645) and runs scored (429), and 18th in earned run average (2.80). Meanwhile, sophomore right-hander Tyler Beede leads the NCAA with his 14-0 record and junior infielder Tony Kemp ranks third nationally in hits (96) and sixth in batting average (.402).
- Georgia Tech, the two seed in the regional, earned an at-large berth after going 34-25, 15-15 in the ACC, and the Yellow Jackets are making their 29th trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Yellow Jackets have reached the regional title game in each of the last 11 seasons and Georgia Tech has posted a 65-57 all-time record in the tournament, while making three trips to the College World Series. As a team, the Yellow Jackets are tied for third in the ACC in hitting (.305) and rank ninth in team ERA (4.49). Zane Evans (.369) and Kyle Wren (.364) rank third and fourth in the conference in batting average, while Wren’s 91 hits and Daniel Palka’s 17 home runs top the conference leaders. Evans also ranks second in home runs with 14.
- Illinois (34-18) earned an at-large bid into the 2013 NCAA Tournament, as the Illini were selected as the No. 3 seed in the Nashville Regional. This marks the Illini's second regional berth in the past three years, as they reached the championship game of the NCAA Fullerton Regional in 2011. Illinois is making its 11th appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Illinois is 17-20 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and last reached the event in 2011, when the Illini advanced to the championship game of the Fullerton Regional in the NCAA Tournament.
- The winner of the Nashville Regional will take on the winner of the Louisville Regional June 7-10 in the Super Regional.
NASHVILLE REGIONAL SCHEDULE
Below is the schedule for the Nashville Regional...
Friday, May 31
Game 1: #2 Georgia Tech (34-25) vs. #3 Illinois (34-18), 2 p.m., ESPN3
Game 2: #1 Vanderbilt (51-9) vs. #4 ETSU (36-22), 7 p.m., ESPNU/ESPN3
Saturday, June 1
Game 3: Vanderbilt/ETSU loser vs. Georgia Tech/Illinois loser, 3 p.m., ESPNU/ESPN3
Game 4: Vanderbilt/ETSU winner vs. Georgia Tech/Illinois winner, 8 p.m., ESPNU/ESPN3
Sunday, June 2
Game 5: Loser Game 4 vs. Winner Game 3, 3 p.m., ESPNU/ESPN3
Game 6: Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 4, 8 p.m., ESPNU/ESPN3
Monday, June 3
Game 7 (If Necessary): Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 6, 7 p.m., ESPNU/ESPN3
Please note – game times are listed in Eastern Time
- Six of the possible seven games will be broadcast on ESPNU, while all seven games will be broadcast live on ESPN3.
- Carter Blackburn will handle the play-by-play duties, while Ben McDonald will be the color analyst.
- The ETSU games can also be heard on WXSM-AM 640 as “Voice of the Bucs” Jay Sandos will carry the play-by-play. Fans outside the Tri-Cities region can access WXSM online at http://www.640wxsm.com/ or can listen to the games via your mobile device(s) by downloading the iHeart Radio application.
- Fans can also access Twitter updates by following @ETSUAthletics and @ETSU_Baseball.
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