February 17, 2017123456789RHE
Central Michigan010022010690
ETSU20500209X18163
PitchingIPHRERBBSO
Win: Ryan Simpler (1-0) 5.063105
Loss: LEATHERMAN (0-1) 3.287732
BattingABRHRBIBBHR
ROBINSON (CMU) 402100
SULLIVAN (CMU) 322000
JIPPING (CMU) 412301
Aaron Maher (ETSU) 524300
February 18, 2017123456789RHE
Central Michigan110200400891
ETSU0022030007100
PitchingIPHRERBBSO
Win: BRADLEY (1-0) 3.033310
Loss: Drew Korzybski (0-1) 0.224421
BattingABRHRBIBBHR
ROBINSON (CMU) 412200
STOKOWSKI (CMU) 412100
Chris Cook (ETSU) 523301
February 19, 201712345678910RHE
Central Michigan00211100106120
ETSU00203000117151
PitchingIPHRERBBSO
Win: Peyton Taylor (1-0) 1.010000
Loss: GROSJEAN (0-1) 1.252222
BattingABRHRBIBBHR
JIPPING (CMU) 413110
GREENMAN (CMU) 523100
Chris Cook (ETSU) 534010
ETSU opens season Friday at Thomas Stadium versus Central Michigan
ETSU opens season Friday at Thomas Stadium versus Central Michigan
Thursday, February 16, 2017

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 16, 2017) – Opening day is almost here!

ETSU baseball opens its long awaited 2017 season opener on Friday, Feb. 16 at Thomas Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. against Central Michigan.

Series Information

The Bucs will begin its season with a three game home stand with the Chippewas. Friday’s game is scheduled to broadcast live via the Buccaneer Sports Network YouTube page. Parker Schwartz will handle the play-by-play duties with Fielder Dennis on the mic for color commentary.  

All three games will have live stats available, and the links to each game can be found to the right.

Central Michigan selected Pat Leatherman as its opening day starter, and the Bucs will counter with red-shirt junior Ryan Simpler (Lewes, Del.).

The full starting rotations are as followed:

Saturday: Chippewas – Michael Brettel    Bucs – Jamin McCann (Kingsport, Tenn.)

Sunday: Chippewas – Dazon Cole    Bucs – Blake Smith (Ninety Six, S.C.)

About the Bucs

One of ETSU’s keys to having a successful 2017 campaign is bringing back “The Triple Threat” (Hagen Owenby (Knoxville, Tenn.), Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.) and Aaron Maher (Brentwood, Tenn.)). The trio was each selected in the 2016 MLB First-Year Draft with Owenby being selected in the 14th round, Cook in the 30th and Maher in the 38th. These three Bucs will be a threat offensively and defensively this season for the Blue and Gold.

On the pitching side, ETSU brings back a lot of experience. Of the 11 returning pitchers for ETSU, they bring back over 800 innings of experience. To lead the pack, senior McCann will look to build off his success last season as he went 8-4 in 26 appearances and six starts. He limited opponents to a measly .252 batting average in 60.2 innings. Along with McCann, Peyton Taylor (Kingsport, Tenn.), Griffin Krieg (Nashville, Tenn.) and Simpler have all combined for 541.1 innings in 222 appearances in their ETSU career.

ETSU signed 11 new players including five community college transfers. Of those transfers, three are pitchers, one is an infielder and one is an outfielder. Of the new players, head coach Tony Skole inked six freshman that look to compete and learn from the experienced Buccaneer squad.

Previewing Central Michigan

Last season Central Michigan finished the year at a 24-37 mark including a 12-12 record in the Mid-American Conference. The Chippewas played 26 games on the road last year and were only able to come away with six victories. However, that didn’t stop the team from making a run in the conference tournament and nearly taking home the title. The Chippewas took Western Michigan into an elimination game in the MAC Championship but were shutout 4-0 in Avon, Ohio.

Prior to the 2017 season, the MAC projected Central Michigan to finish second in the West Division only behind Ball State, who won the West title last season.

The Chippewas are returning two key offensive bats in Alex Borglin and Daniel Jipping. The senior from Clinton Township, Mich., Borglin, started all 61 games last year including posting a .299 clip. He was second on the team in extra-base hits with 18 including a team-best five triples. Counter to him, Jipping is the biggest power threat for Central Michigan as he posted a team-best six home runs, 16 doubles, 25 extra-base hits, 42 RBIs and a .484 slugging percentage.

A devastating blow for CMU was seeing its starting second baseman leave, Zach McKinstry. McKinstry was drafted as a sophomore by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 33rd round. He signed with the Dodgers and spent 45 games in its farm season in 2016.

Pitching-wise, Central Michigan took two losses as Nick Deeg and Sean Renzi left for the MLB. Deeg was a junior last season and was taken in the 30th round by the San Francisco Giants. He compiled a 4-7 record in 15 starts along with a 3.95 ERA. As a senior, Renzi was signed by the Chicago White Sox as he was taken in the 32nd round of the 2016 MLB Draft. Renzi appeared in 19 games including 11 starts for the Chippewas in 2016.

However, one of Central Michigan’s best pitchers from last season, Pat Leatherman, is returning for his sophomore season. As a freshman, he posted a 3.53 ERA along with a 3-4 record. In the 74 innings pitched, he limited batters to a .264 batting average. One of the two senior pitchers this season, Jordan Grosjean, was 3-4 with a 3.77 ERA in a team-best 26 appearances last year. He also struck out 54 batters, which was the highest among relief pitchers on the team.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Below is a breakdown of the Bucs by infield, outfield, catcher and pitcher…

Infield

The middle infield will be one of the strongest strengths for the Bucs in 2017. Returning after suffering a season-ending injury, Cook will hold down the shortstop duties, while senior Blake Rowlett (Clarksville, Tenn.) will man second base. D1Baseball.com’s freshman of the year, Cullen Smith (Lebanon, Tenn.), will man the hot corner at third base to allow Rowlett to transition back to his natural position at second. Junior Christian Bailey (Kingsport, Tenn.) looks to lockdown the role at first base after appearing in 34 games last season with most of his time coming out of the designated hitters role.

Scott Hoilman (Johnson City, Tenn.), Brock Beeler (Knoxville, Tenn.), Cade Giblert (Ringgold, Ga.), Colton Lakes (Loveland, Ohio) and Ethan Rice (Unicoi, Tenn.) will all see playing time this season on the diamond for the Blue and Gold.

Outfield

With Jeremy Taylor graduating last year, that left center field wide open, but Skole signed a junior college transfer from Chattanooga State, Hunter Parker (Chattanooga, Tenn.), who will look to fill Taylor’s shoes. One of the members of “The Triple Threat”, Maher, will man right field for the Bucs in 2017. He had a breakout sophomore season which got him drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In the other corner outfield position, ETSU will look for an everyday starter to fill that role. Seth Cunningham (Bristol, Va.), Jammer Strickland (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Caleb Longley (Cleveland, Tenn.) all saw time last year in the outfield as they combined for 19 starts. After being red-shirted last season, Sam Stewart (Kingsport, Tenn.) will look to compete for a starting role in 2017.

Catchers

One of the strongest points in 2017 is who will be manning behind the plate: the recently named 2017 SoCon preseason player of the year, Owenby. The junior started in 47 games last year at catcher including eight starts at designated hitter. He led the team in multiple offensive categories, and he hopes to repeat again in 2017.

To add depth behind the two year All-American, the Bucs have four catchers to back up the Knoxville native. Two of them are true freshmen - Jackson Greer (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Nick Sainato (Madison, Ala.). Adding a few games experience, Doug McFarland (Monhton, Pa.) returns after being red-shirted last season. During his freshman season, he started in 11 games including nine at catcher. The final Buccaneer catcher is a two-sport athlete at ETSU, Lakes (football and baseball).

Pitchers

The last two seasons, the ETSU pitching staff has broken the team strikeout record. In 2015, the Bucs struck out 431 batters, but in 2016, ETSU bested that with 436, which was led by Lee Haeberle’s 90 strikeouts.

ETSU returns 13 pitchers from last year while only losing one key starting pitcher - Haeberle.

Prior to opening weekend, Skole announced his starting rotation consisting of Simpler, McCann and Smith, all of which are upperclassmen. The trio of pitchers combined for 72 appearances and 20 starts last year.  

Taylor will be one of the strongest backbones for the ETSU bullpen. The Kingsport, Tenn. native appeared in a team-best 31 games including five saves last year. Between Daniel Sweeney (Johnson City, Tenn.), Connor Bartow (Jonesborough, Tenn.), Logan Gentry (Kingsport, Tenn.), Russell Koesters (Kingsport, Tenn.), Victor Gonzalez (Jupiter, Fla.), Dillon Cate (Sevierville, Tenn.) and Andy Higley (Knoxville, Tenn.), they combined for 81 appearances, 84 strikeouts and 121.2 innings pitched in 2016.

Matt Turner (Knoxville, Tenn.) will look to make his collegiate debut this season after sitting out 2016 from injury.

Skole brought in three new pitchers: Daniel Shaw (Memphis, Tenn.), Matt Roueche (East Ridge, Tenn,) and Drew Korzybski (Knoxville, Tenn.). The trio look to add depth for the Blue and Gold this season.

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