|March 28, 2017||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|Win: ZURAK (2-0)||2.0||2||1||1||1||1|
|Loss: Peyton Taylor (2-1)||1.2||3||2||2||1||2|
|Chris Cook (ETSU)||4||0||2||1||1||0|
|Christian Bailey (ETSU)||4||1||2||1||0||0|
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (March 27, 2017) – After playing six straight road contests, the ETSU baseball team will conclude its season-long road swing as the Bucs will travel to Radford on Mach 28 for a 6 p.m. start.
About the Bucs
ETSU opened its Southern Conference play this past weekend as the Bucs traveled to Macon, Ga. to square off against Mercer – who was receiving national attention after sweeping nationally ranked East Carolina, and the Bucs snuck out with one win in the SoCon opening series with the Bears.
ETSU has a 12-9 overall record heading into the mid-week game at Radford. Tomorrow’s game will be the first mid-week game since the Bucs hosted Marshall on March 8 inside Thomas Stadium. The Blue and Gold have played in three mid-week contests this year highlighted by a two-game series sweep of Oakland at the beginning of the season.
Starting pitching has been the highlight of the pitching staff this season with Blake Smith (Ninety Six, S.C.) and Ryan Simpler (Lewes, Del.) leading the surge. Smith tossed a gem in the series finale with Mercer as the senior tossed eight innings while allowing two runs and striking out eight. In his last two starts, Smith is 2-0 while striking out 22 batters and limiting opponents to a .169 batting average.
ETSU’s Friday starter, Simpler, has been strong this year as well as he totes a 3-3 overall record with a 3.79 ERA in six starts. He has tossed 35.2 innings and leads the team in total strike outs with 41 while limiting opponents to eight walks.
As a team, the Blue and Gold have six players still hitting above .300 with junior Hunter Parker (Chattanooga, Tenn.) lead the charge at .419 – which ranks 24th in the country. He leads the team with an on-base percentage of .500, and he has touched home 14 times and swiped four bases this season.
Leading the team in hits is junior Christian Bailey (Kingsport, Tenn.) as he has knocked 35 total hits including a team-leading seven doubles. Aaron Maher (Brentwood, Tenn.) is right behind his teammate with 33 hits including six extra-base hits, and the Brentwood, Tenn. native is also a perfect 7-for-7 in stolen bases this season. Freshman Cullen Smith (Lebanon, Tenn.) has been solid this year in the lineup as he sports a .359 batting average including 28 total hits and a team-best 22 RBIs.
The Bucs have connected with 18 home runs this year in 21 games, and Caleb Longley (Cleveland, Tenn.) leads the team with five. Hagen Owenby (Knoxville, Tenn.), Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.) and Longley have all combined for 14 of the 18 team home runs this year. Cook and Owenby each knocked a home run in the series finale at Mercer, and Blake Rowlett (Clarksville, Tenn.) joined the Buccaneer teammates as he drilled his third homer of the year on Sunday as well.
Scouting the Highlanders
Radford is coming into the mid-week contest with a 10-13 overall record, but the Highlanders have won seven of their last nine games with all the victories coming at home. Most recently, Radford won the Big South Conference opening series with Longwood as the Highlanders hosted the Lancers this past weekend. Radford took the first two games by outscoring Longwood 26-6. However, the Lancers snuck out a 7-1 win in the series finale to avoid the sweep.
This week, the Highlanders swept the Big South Conference player of the week honors as Zack Ridgely and Jonathan Gonzalez were named the conference pitcher of the week and co-player of the week, respectively.
Ridgely started against Longwood on Friday where he went 7.2 innings and struck out a career-high 11 batters for his third straight win. Gonzalez went 9-for-17 last week where he smacked three home runs while driving in eight RBIs and scoring five runs.
As a team, Radford has four players hitting over .300 this year led by Kyle Butler. The red-shirt sophomore is hitting at a .371 clip including a team-best six doubles and 21 runs scored. Matt Roth is behind his teammate as he connects at a .352 mark where he leads the team with 31 hits. Along with Gonzalez, Spencer Horwitz is the fourth Highlander to hit above .300 as he sits at a .309 batting average.
The Highlander bullpen has a trio of pitchers that have pitched well in relief this season. Kyle Zurak has the most appearances this year with nine including posting a team-best three saves. Austin Gerber has tossed in seven games for Radford, and he has a 2-1 record with a 3.43 ERA in 21 innings pitched. The final Highlanders is John Brocklebank who has hurled in eight games and totes a 3.68 ERA.
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