JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 15, 2018) – The ETSU baseball team begins is only neutral site weekend of the season when it travels to Knoxville for the Tri-Star Classic tournament set for March 2-4 at Tennessee’s Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
This weekend, ETSU will face some of the state’s finest baseball teams, including the Vols on Friday at 3 p.m., MTSU Saturday at 4 p.m. and Memphis in the final game Sunday at noon.
Live stats will be available for every game this weekend via this link: https://tinyurl.com/y9uk63h2
Updated Tri-Star Classic Schedule
Friday, March 2
3:00pm- Tennessee (H) vs. ETSU
7:00pm- MTSU (H) vs. Memphis
Saturday, March 3
12:00pm- Tennessee (H) vs. Memphis
4:00pm- ETSU (H) vs. MTSU
Sunday, March 4
12:00pm- Memphis (H) vs. ETSU
4:00pm- Tennessee (H) vs. MTSU
*(H) indicates home team for each game. Tennessee will be home for all three games, while all other teams will serve as the home team once.
About the Bucs
ETSU enters the tournament 3-3 on the season, handing Florida Gulf Coast its first loss of the season before falling in the final two games of the road series in Fort Myers, Fla.
ETSU is now 2-0 in series openers. In Game One, late inning heroics propelled the Bucs to victory. A back and forth contest that saw four lead changes, FGCU took an early 2-0 lead in the first inning before the Bucs stormed back to make it 4-2. From the bottom of the fourth to the top of the eighth, the Bucs trailed 6-4.
With six outs to work with, ETSU strung together a two-run eighth inning to re-tie the ballgame at six runs apiece. Later, ETSU long reliever Drew Korzybski (Knoxville, Tenn.) kept the talented FGCU offense in check to send things to the ninth.
ETSU’s four-run ninth inning sparked from a two-RBI single by Caleb Longley (Cleveland, Tenn.) gave ETSU a 10-6 cushion. Senior Aaron Maher (Brentwood, Tenn.) came into close and helped ETSU work out of a bases loaded situation that saw the tying and game-winning runs at the plate for the 10-8 win.
For the season, sophomore Jackson Greer (Knoxville, Tenn.) leads the Bucs with a .417 batting average, turning in his first career multi-hit games with his two starts against FGCU. He finished the weekend with four hits and three RBI in seven at-bats. Greer’s first hit this season was a homerun, giving him back-to-back seasons with left-field bombs as first hits to start the year.
Another player finding his role is freshman utility player Ben Jackson (Guyton, Ga.) who has started both behind the dish and in the outfield this season. He’s batting 4-for-10 on the season for a .400 average, including his first career RBI in the Game One ninth inning rally vs. FGCU.
On the mound, senior veteran Ryan Simpler (Lewes, Del.) worked a strong outing despite dealing a Game Two loss, tossing 7.0 innings with nine strikeouts, no walks and two runs allowed. Simpler has 18 strikeouts and zero walks to open the season, bringing a 3.00 ERA into the weekend.
Scouting ETSU’s opponents
Tennessee: Much like ETSU, Tennessee opened this season with a new skipper as Tony Vitello took over the program just one month prior to ETSU head coach Joe Pennucci. Vitello spent the last four seasons at Arkansas as the recruiting coordinator and currently holds a 6-3 record this season.
The Vols return 21 players from last season including seven position players that started double-digit games and five pitchers that had at least 15 appearances last year. ETSU will most likely see UT ace Zach Linginfelter Friday, who returns after posting a 3.67 ERA through 56.1 innings his freshman season.
Leading the UT offense this season is Andre Lipcius, who is batting a team-high .344 with 11 hits, six runs, 14 RBI, three doubles and a grand slam. He earned a spot on the 2017 Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Freshman All-American team and the 2017 Freshman All-SEC team.
MTSU: The Blue Raiders come into the tournament with a 4-4 record thus far, winning its four of its first five games before hitting a three-game losing streak. In MTSU’s last outing, the Vols took a 5-4 decision in Knoxville Feb. 27. The two teams will face off again Sunday following ETSU.
The Blue Raiders’ biggest strength this season has been moving along the base paths, as MTSU leads all C-USA teams in stolen bases with 17 so far. Seven of those 17 are courtesy of leadoff hitter LA Woodard, who also leads the team in runs, hits and slugging percentage.
MTSU’s projected starter for Saturday is junior Carson Lester, who brings a 4.22 ERA into this weekend with a 1-1 record through 10.2 innings. Lester led the team with 22 relief appearances his freshman season before earning six starts last year.
Memphis: The Tigers are in the midst of their first road weekend of the season, as Memphis brings a 3-5 record into March. Seven of their eight games have been in Memphis, with the lone road game coming at No. 9 Ole Miss in an 8-6 loss. Memphis defeated Southeast Missouri in its last outing.
Memphis brings the most experienced coach to the dance this weekend, as Daron Schoenrock is in his 14th year with the program and his 16th overall as a head coach.
The Tigers’ probable pitcher is junior right-hander Alex Hicks, who is 1-1 this season with a 6.48 ERA through two starts this season. The offensive player to watch is senior outfielder Tyler Webb who leads the offense with a .462 batting average, four doubles, four RBI and five runs scored. Webb is also riding a 26-game on base streak.
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