JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (May 5, 2015) – The ETSU baseball team hosts Winthrop in its final non-conference home game on Wednesday night at Thomas Stadium. First pitch is slated for 6:05 p.m.
PREVIEWING THE BUCS
ETSU (18-29) dropped two of three at Furman over the weekend in Southern Conference play. The Bucs dropped the first two games of the series before freshman right-hander Ryan Simpler (Lewes, Del.) tossed seven strong innings to help guide the Blue and Gold to a 7-3 victory on Sunday. After falling 8-4 in the series opener on Friday night, ETSU suffered a heartbreaking, 10-9, 10-inning setback in game two on Saturday.
Junior outfielder Jeremy Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.) has reached base safely in 22 consecutive games, while senior outfielder Jordan Sanford (Powell, Tenn.) has accomplished the feat in 20 straight games. In addition, sophomore infielder Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.) carries a nine-game hit streak into Wednesday’s game, while Sanford has hit safely in seven consecutive games and Taylor has done so in six straight contests.
Junior infielder Trey York (Knoxville, Tenn.) has six hits in his last two games after posting back-to-back three-hit games. York’s three-hit efforts tied a career high for the ETSU second baseman. The Knoxville native ranks 13th nationally in triples (6), 26th in batting average (.379), 30th in slugging percentage (.644), 44th in hits (67), 48th in RBI (46), and 51st in runs (46).
Simpler, who allowed two runs on seven hits and struck out four in a career-high seven innings on Sunday, earned his first career SoCon win, and junior southpaw Josh Jacques (Rollinsford, N.H.) picked up his first collegiate save by tossing the final two innings.
As a pitching staff, ETSU broke the single-season program record for strikeouts on Saturday as the Bucs have now struck out 366 hitters, besting the 1995 mark of 358. On Sunday, Simpler and Jacques combined for five strikeouts and zero walks, marking the third time this season ETSU pitchers have not walked a batter. The Bucs are 3-0 in those outings.
Winthrop (32-15) hasn’t played since falling to Furman, 12-0, last Tuesday in Rock Hill, S.C.
The Eagles are led by senior infielder/outfielder Brad Kaczka and junior catcher Roger Gonzalez as the duo have combined for 113 hits, 52 runs and 59 RBI. Kaczka leads the team with a .355 batting average and is tied for the team lead with 59 hits, while Gonzalez is hitting .348 (54-155) with nine doubles, two home runs, 25 runs and 30 RBI.
As a team, Winthrop is tied for the Big South lead in batting average (.293) and ranks second in hits (469).
Prior to their setback to Furman, the Eagles had won 10 straight games – outscoring their opponents, 68-26, during the run.
Winthrop’s pitching staff has recorded four shutouts and a 3.86 ERA (180 ER/419.1 IP) in 47 games this season.
Junior right-hander Lee Haeberle (Hendersonville, Tenn.) will make his second straight midweek start for the Bucs, while the Eagles counter with fellow junior right-hander Zach Sightler.
Haeberle is 4-6 with a 7.32 ERA (48 ER/59.0 IP) in 15 appearances (11 starts), and is coming off a win over Appalachian State last Wednesday night where he issued three runs in five innings.
Sightler is 5-1 with a 4.93 ERA (23 ER/42.0 IP) and last pitched two scoreless innings against the Bucs back on April 22. Sightler has made 11 appearances (seven starts) this season.
The Bucs are looking for their first win over Winthrop as the Eagles have won all eight games in the series.
ETSU suffered an 8-4 setback to the Eagles back on April 22 in Rock Hill, while four of the eight games in the series have been decided by two runs or less.
Winthrop is making just its second trip to Johnson City as the Eagles first visited Thomas Stadium in 2013.
Wednesday’s game will be streamed live on the SoCon Digital Network (weather permitting), while “Voice of the Bucs” Jay Sandos will have the radio call on WXSM-AM 640 The Extreme Sports Monster starting with the Atmos Energy Dugout Show, which begins 30 minutes prior to first pitch.
Live stats will be available 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 returns to SoCon play as the Bucs open a three-game series at The Citadel Friday night at 6 p.m.
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For more information on Buccaneer baseball, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the baseball page.