MACON, Ga. (March 18, 2015) – The ETSU baseball team looks to continue its winning ways as the Bucs open Southern Conference play this weekend at Mercer. ETSU heads to Macon on a four-game win streak and opens the three-game series Friday night at Claude Smith Field.
GAME TIMES/PITCHING MATCHUPS
Friday – 6 p.m. – Game No. 19
RHP Jimmy Nesselt (3-0, 2.81) vs. RHP Eric Nyquist (2-1, 1.66)
Saturday – 2 p.m. – Game No. 20
RHP Lee Haeberle (2-2, 5.40) vs. LHP Connor Herd (2-2, 4.12)
Sunday – 1 p.m. – Game No. 21
RHP Griffin Krieg (1-1, 7.65) vs. LHP Grant Papelian (2-1, 4.43)
PREVIEWING THE BUCS
ETSU (11-7) is coming off a 17-14 midweek win at Morehead State on Tuesday where the Blue and Gold rallied from a seven-run deficit.
Junior Kevin Phillips (St. Louis, Mo.) and sophomore Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.) both belted three-run home runs and junior Andrew Lasure (Stanford, Ky.) drove in the winning runs with a two-run single in the ninth.
Cook, Phillips and Lasure combined to drive in 12 runs, while eight Buccaneers finished with multi-hit games. Cook went 3 for 6 and drove in a career-high five runs and Phillips totaled a career-best four hits, scored three runs and drove in three. Lasure tied a career high with three hits and finished with a career-high four RBI.
Junior Trey York (Knoxville, Tenn.) extended his streak of reaching base to 18 games as he went 2 for 5 with two doubles, two runs and two RBI, while red-shirt sophomore Danny Carrier (Cincinnati, Ohio) reached base five times – career high three hits and two walks. Daniel Tucker (Hendersonville, Tenn.), Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.) and Hagen Owenby (Knoxville, Tenn.) also registered multi-hits for the Blue and Gold.
ETSU, who has posted 41 hits in its last two games, finished with a season-high 23, marking the most hits since finishing with 24 on May 1, 2010 versus Stetson. The 17 runs also were a season best and the most since scoring 20 in a win over UNC Asheville on May 13, 2013.
The Bucs trailed 11-4 midway through the game, but ETSU outscored Morehead State 13-3 en route to posting its fourth straight win.
Red-shirt freshman right-hander Dillon Cate (Sevierville, Tenn.) earned the win after striking out two in 1.2 innings of relief.
PREVIEWING THE BEARS
Mercer is coming off a 16-4 win over Georgia on Tuesday night and the Bears enter conference play with a record of 12-11.
Offensively, the Bears lead the SoCon in home runs (25) and rank second in runs scored (131) and doubles (52); however, Mercer also tops the league in strikeouts (189).
Sophomore outfielder Kyle Lewis leads the conference in hits (36) and home runs (7), is tied for the lead in doubles (9), and is tied for fifth in runs scored (19). Lewis leads the team with a .360 batting average, while Matt Meeder (.318) and Nate Moorhouse (.303) are also hitting above .300.
Mercer’s pitching staff ranks third in ERA at 4.50, while senior reliever Dimitri Kourtis leads the SoCon in opposing batting average (.174).
Nyquist, Mercer’s Friday night starter, received first team preseason All-SoCon honors, while catcher Charlie Madden and first baseman Howard Joe landed second team accolades.
The Bears were picked to finish second in the SoCon.
The Bucs took three of four from Mercer in 2014, but Mercer leads the all-time series, 22-14. ETSU won the regular season series in Johnson City and ended the Bears’ season in the Atlantic Sun Championship.
The Bucs are 4-11 in five conference series played in Macon, while ETSU is looking for its first series win at Claude Smith Field since 2009.
Eleven of the 36 games have been decided by two runs or less, with Mercer going 8-3 in those contests.
This weekend marks the first SoCon series for ETSU since May 12-13, 2005, when the Bucs faced Davidson at Cardinal Park.
Head coach Tony Skole, who earned his 400th win at ETSU in the Bucs’ 9-1 victory over Radford earlier this month, is one win shy over registering his 500th career victory.
The Bucs are looking for their first five-game win streak since rattling off seven straight wins from May 16-26, when ETSU swept Jacksonville to end the regular season and swept through the A-Sun Championship.
Kevin Phillips is 10 hits shy of his 100th career hit, while Jimmy Nesselt (Plantation, Fla.) is 27 strikeouts away from No. 200 for his career.
Trey York ranks second in the NCAA in slugging percentage (.922), sixth in runs (27), seventh in batting average (.469), 10th in RBI (26), 18th in triples (3) 25th in on-base percentage (.532), and 27th in home runs (5) … Kevin Phillips ranks ninth in home runs (6), 13th in slugging percentage (.763), and 18th in doubles (9) … Jeremy Taylor ranks 26th in stolen bases (10) … Jimmy Nesselt ranks 11th in strikeouts (42) and 34th in strikeouts per nine innings (11.81), while he and Lee Haeberle (Hendersonville, Tenn.) ranks eighth in starts (5).
As a team, ETSU ranks third nationally in slugging percentage (.496), 10th in triples (10), 12th in batting average (.313), 15th in doubles (47), 28th in scoring (7.2), 30th in home runs (16), 44th in hits (196), and 46th in runs (129).
Live stats will be available for this weekend’s series via StatBroadcast by visiting ETSUBucs.com. Fans can access live stats on their computers, mobile devices or tablets.
Live updates will also be posted on Twitter by following @ETSUAthletics and @ETSU_Baseball.
A LOOK AHEAD
ETSU wraps up its six-game road swing with a pair of midweek games as the Bucs play at Radford on Tuesday and at Virginia Tech Wednesday.
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