JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (April 3, 2017) – The ETSU baseball team – who has lost two straight mid-week games - looks to rebound as the Bucs welcome Appalachian State to Thomas Stadium on Tuesday. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
LHP Daniel Shaw (0-0, 4.15 ERA) vs. LHP Bobby Hampton (2-1, 4.41 ERA)
About the Bucs
ETSU is coming off its second Southern Conference series loss of the season as UNCG rallied past the Bucs on Saturday and Sunday to win the series. The Bucs enter the mid-week matchup with a 13-12 overall record and a 2-4 conference mark.
Despite losing two straight mid-week games, ETSU is 2-2 in such games. The Bucs started red-hot earlier in the season as the Blue and Gold swept Oakland in a two-game mid-week series.
The Bucs averaged ten hits per game this past series with the Spartans, and that moved ETSU to 8th overall in the country as the Bucs now hit at a .320 clip. Not only did ETSU move up in the national rankings in batting average, but the team improved to 20th in the country in on-base percentage at .404. The Bucs fell in scoring as they are now 29th with 7.5 runs per game and 38th in total hits with 288.
Junior college transfer Hunter Parker (Chattanooga, Tenn.) continues to make an impact on the diamond as he is now ranked 8th nationally in batting average. Last week the Chattanooga, Tenn. native was ranked 26th, but after knocking four hits this past weekend, he saw his batting average improve to .429. Parker is also 10th in the country with an on-base percentage of .525.
Also joining Parker in the national rankings are Christian Bailey (Kingsport, Tenn.), Aaron Maher (Brentwood, Tenn.) and Hagen Owenby (Knoxville, Tenn.). Bailey is 14th in hits per game with 1.64 while Maher is 18th in runs per game (1.20) and 37th in total runs (30). Owenby continues to be one of the toughest batters to strikeout this year as he ranks 8th at 20.6 at-bats per strikeout.
The ETSU pitching staff was ruffed up this past weekend by the nation’s top hitting team, UNCG. Despite allowing a combined 21 runs between the Saturday and Sunday losses, the Bucs had a strong outing from junior right-hander Ryan Simpler (Lewes, Del.) on Friday. Simpler tossed his first collegiate complete game shutout in the series opener with the Spartans where he limited the hot-hitting Spartans to six hits. He struck out seven batters and only walked one Spartan. The outing by Simpler was the first shutout at home since Kerry Doane pitched ETSU to an 8-0 win over Lipscomb in 2013.
Scouting the Mountaineers
Appalachian State enters the mid-week contest with a 12-16 record including a 3-6 Sun Belt Conference record this year. Its record is deceptive as the Mountaineers have played seven nationally ranked teams this year with all games being on the road except one. The one home ranked contest was against No. 24 Wake Forest where the Mountaineers fell 5-4 in Boone, N.C. The other ranked teams they have played this year include: No. 5 South Carolina, No. 9 East Carolina, No. 14 Louisiana-Lafayette, No. 16 St. John’s, No. 24 UNC-Wilmington and No. 26 Missouri. In all 11 ranked games this year, Appalachian State is 1-10 with its lone victory coming at Louisiana-Lafayette.
The Mountaineers have a team batting average of .224 with Matt Vernon and Tyler Stroup leading the charge. Vernon has the best mark at .313, and Stroup is behind him at .284. The duo have combined for ten of the team’s 18 home runs this year with Stroup contributing a team-best six homers this year. Vernon has the most doubles (8) and runs scored (20) on the squad.
The Bucs will see Appalachian State’s mid-week starter Bobby Hampton who is 2-1 on the season and sports a 4.41 ERA. He has started six games this year and has tossed 32.2 innings thus far. He is third on the team in strikeouts with 28, but he leads the team with the most home runs allowed with seven.
Appalachian State has a pair of relievers that has delivered out of the bullpen in Tristan Helms and Reed Howell. Each has pitched in at least 11 games this season and has held opponents to just four earned runs in 31 combined innings. Howell has appeared in 12 games this year and has posted four saves. He has tossed 22.1 innings, and he limits opponents to a .238 batting average.
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