|April 27, 2018||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|Win: Micah Kaczor (4-4)||7.0||10||3||2||1||1|
|Loss: Walter (1-6)||5.1||6||6||6||5||3|
|Caleb Longley (ETSU)||5||1||2||1||0||1|
|Christian Bailey (ETSU)||4||3||2||3||0||1|
|Cullen Smith (ETSU)||4||1||2||2||1||0|
|April 28, 2018||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|Win: Ryan Simpler (5-4)||6.0||10||8||7||2||2|
|Loss: Baker (1-6)||2.1||14||12||12||1||0|
|Ben Jackson (ETSU)||6||4||4||1||0||1|
|C. Robinson (WCU)||5||2||3||3||0||1|
|April 29, 2018||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|Win: Daniel Sweeney (3-2)||1.2||4||2||2||1||1|
|Loss: Purus (1-10)||5.2||11||10||10||3||8|
|Chris Cook (ETSU)||5||3||3||1||1||1|
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (April 26, 2018) – After a one-week hiatus from SoCon action, the ETSU baseball team recommences conference play this weekend in Cullowhee, N.C. against Western Carolina, beginning Friday, April 27 at 5 p.m.
The Bucs have played 12 of its 24 conference games so far with Samford, UNCG, Mercer and VMI in the books — four of the top five teams in the conference standings. ETSU (20-17, 5-7) will now look to work its way into the top portion, beginning with WCU (4-35, 2-13).
Last weekend, ETSU was the odd team out of the nine SoCon baseball participants. The Bucs used their off weekend to take on Tulane in New Orleans, coming away with a 9-1 series-opening win before falling victim to two losses in a series-ending double-header.
Game Day Central
The series opener and series finale in Cullowhee will each be available for free streaming on ESPN3. Additionally, Western Carolina will provide live stats via GameTracker.
Check the “related links” box for all video and stats links.
Game 1: RHP Micah Kaczor (3-4, 5.04 ERA) vs. RHP Chase Walter (1-5, 6.24 ERA)
Game 2: RHP Ryan Simpler (4-4, 4.87 ERA) vs. LHP Tristan Baker (1-5, 6.83 ERA)
Game 3: RHP Russell Koesters (2-2, 5.57 ERA) vs. LHP Taylor Purus (1-9, 7.65 ERA)
About the Bucs
After Tulane’s offense poured on the runs in last weekend’s double-header, the ETSU bullpen responded in phenomenal fashion by shutting out Radford in a 2-0 home midweek win.
After midweek starter Daniel Sweeney (Johnson City, Tenn.) tossed the first two innings, six other pitchers saw action for the Bucs and held Radford to two-hits. ETSU did not allow a runner past second base the entire night while only allowing one runner to reach past first.
Sweeney earned the win on a two-inning limit while senior Aaron Maher (Brentwood, Tenn.) closed with his sixth save of the year in as many tries.
Maher’s production did not stop on the mound, as ETSU’s normal right fielder had a two-hit day and scored both of ETSU’s runs — one of which was an eighth inning solo homer.
In between Sweeney and Maher were five other arms for ETSU, as seniors Russell Koesters (Kingsport, Tenn.) and Drew Korzybski (Knoxville, Tenn.) each tossed smooth innings in the third and fourth, respectively.
Fellow senior Logan Gentry (Kingsport, Tenn.) would be the only other pitcher besides Sweeney to pitch two innings, allowing no hits with a strikeout against his six batters.
Prior to Maher, junior transfers Dominick Stefanacci (Fort Myers, Fla.) and James Giambalvo (Alhambra, Calif.) each saw an inning of work with neither allowing a hit. Stefanacci struck out one, while Giambalvo recorded two in his frame.
Offensively, senior Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.) continues to lead the way hitting .333 with 48 hits on the season. His high school teammate and fellow senior, Christian Bailey (Kingsport, Tenn.), is hitting .316 with 13 doubles and 30 RBI.
Senior utility player Caleb Longley (Cleveland, Tenn.) wields the hottest bat for ETSU, currently batting .305 with a team-high eight homers, 14 doubles and 34 RBI. He also leads the Bucs with a .617 slugging percentage after his two doubles and two homers last week.
Injuries and a bit of tough luck have hindered the Catamounts this season. With a 4-35 record, Western Carolina has lost nearly half its games by three runs or less with 17 such contests.
Despite its rough start, WCU is 2-13 in conference play and owns an 8-4 win over Mercer. The Catamounts’ other win came against The Citadel in a double header. VMI, UNCG and Wofford have each swept WCU.
Most recently, WCU took an 8-2 loss to No. 6 North Carolina. In the loss, Western Carolina totaled seven hits to UNC’s eight, but 13 stranded runners and 11 walks by the WCU pitchers hindered the upset bid.
The Catamounts have one offensive starter batting above .300 in freshman outfielder Justice Bigbie. The rookie is slashing .351/.381/.483 while holding team highs in hits (53), RBI (34) and total bases (73) while tied for a team-best nine doubles.
On the mound, WCU has a 7.08 ERA as a unit. Junior starters Tristan Baker and Taylor Purus each have complete games this season. The two starters along with Friday starter Chase Walter combine for three of WCU’s four wins. Purus leads WCU with 65 strikeouts.
Series History vs. WCU
The Catamounts lead the all-time series 68-33 through 101 games.
Western Carolina is one of only two teams that ETSU has faced over 100 times in baseball. Appalachian State is the other at 136.
Despite being swept in Johnson City by the Catamounts last season, ETSU had the last laugh by opening the SoCon Tournament with an 8-6 win over No. 2 WCU. In that contest — which was the last meeting between the two — ETSU dug out of a 6-1 hole with seven unanswered runs. Down 6-3 in the ninth inning, ETSU turned on the jets and scored five runs to pull ahead.
Three current ETSU players had a huge role in that game, as Aaron Maher and Christian Bailey connected with clutch run-scoring doubles in the ninth inning to mount the comeback. With the game tied and two outs, Cullen Smith (Lebanon, Tenn.) crushed a two RBI triple to center to give ETSU its go-ahead runs. Maher then entered to pitch and earned his first career save.
With the exception of 1993, the two sides faced off every year from 1979-2004. When the two became non-conference foes for nearly a decade, the rivalry continued in 2006-2009, 2012 and 2014. ETSU then rejoined the SoCon in 2015 and have since faced WCU 10 times, holding a 4-6 record against the Catamounts.
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