JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 29, 2016) – The ETSU Buccaneers prepare for their first home midweek matchup of the season with UNC-Asheville on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Thomas Stadium.
Series Recap vs. NKU
The Bucs are coming off a heartbreaking series with Northern Kentucky as they lost the series two games to one. The Norse snuck out a victory to open the series 3-2 after letting up all three runs in the top of the ninth. The Bucs retaliated in game two as they won 7-6 in extra innings after a bases loaded walk off hit through the left side by Kevin Phillips (St. Louis, Mo.). The rubber series turned into a ‘bat’ series as both teams combined for 33 runs on Sunday. The Norse outpaced the Bucs that afternoon 21-12.
Hagen Owenby (Knoxville, Tenn.) is catching fire as he hit two home runs on Sunday and has back-to-back games with homers. He is currently riding a six game hitting streak, which is the longest on the team. Phillips had a productive game Saturday as he led the Bucs to a comeback. He led off the ninth with a solo home run to bring the game within one and also provided the game-winning, walk off hit in the tenth. Over the weekend series, Phillips had three hits with two runs scored and three RBIs.
Jammer Strickland (Kingston, Tenn.) found a groove as he is 5-11 in his last three games with two walks and two runs scored. Aaron Maher (Brentwood, Tenn.) added to his early season success as he tallied three straight multi-hit games. He added on three doubles and triple while touching home three times in the series.
Blake Smith (Ninety Six, S.C.) started game one on Friday for ETSU and turned in an impressive game as he went six innings without a run to score and six strikeouts. Peyton Taylor (Kingsport, Tenn.) and Lee Haeberle (Hendersonville, Tenn.) continued to be strong options out of the pen as both held the Norse to no runs in their outings this past weekend.
Scouting the Bulldogs
UNC-Asheville is a young team as they hold eleven freshmen on their roster. Of those eleven freshmen, six have appeared in at least three games this year. They also have upperclassmen leadership on the team as they have multiple guys getting consistent playing time for the Bulldogs.
Joe Tietjen has been a power force for UNC-Asheville. He is batting .400 on the year with ten hits in 25 at bats. He has five extra base hits with three doubles and two home runs. He also leads the team with eleven RBIs. Senior catcher, Pete Guy, has been a force at the plate as he has connected with five home runs in the six games played for the Bulldogs. Lucas Owens has started all six games in the 2016 season and is leading the team in batting average (.450), on-base percentage (.621), and doubles (4).
The team is prone to strikeout often as they have 59 total strikeouts, but they also walk occasionally with 48 walks on the season. The Bulldogs do not steal a lot of bases either as they are just 2-3 on stolen base attempts. They have issues with fielding as their team fielding percentage is .921, and they have a combined 18 errors in the six games played.
From a pitching standpoint, they let up a lot of hits per game (12.67). UNC-Asheville has shown three starting pitchers this year and each have allowed at least 14 hits in their two starts. Joe Zayatz has been their best starter all year as he totes a 3.00 ERA in 12 innings of work with nine strikeouts. He also is third on the team offensively with a .385 batting average with a seven RBIs in 13 at-bats.
The Bucs and Bulldogs have met 54 times in their history, and ETSU holds the edge 30-24. Last year, UNC-Asheville swept ETSU in three games. All three games were decided by three runs or less. The Bulldogs have taken four straight games from the Bucs. The last team ETSU defeated them was in 2014 when the Blue and Gold won at home, 11-6.
Starting Pitching Matchup
Haeberle will make his first start of the 2016 campaign. He has found some early success this season as he carries a 0.00 ERA in two appearances. In the 3.1 innings of work, he has tallied five strikeouts and no runs. Last year, Haeberle started in 13 games with a record of 5-6. He has yet to start against the Bulldogs but made one appearance last year out of the bullpen.
UNC-Asheville has yet to name a starter for Tuesday.
What’s Next for the Bucs?
ETSU will finish their eight game home stretch with power five conference Purdue University coming to Johnson City. This will be the first-ever matchup between the Boilermakers and Bucs. The first game is set for March 4 at 6 p.m. at Thomas Stadium, followed by a doubleheader on Saturday starting at 1 p.m. The last game of the four game set will start at 1 p.m.
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