April 27, 2018123456789RHE
Western Carolina1001010014121
Win: Micah Kaczor (4-4) 7.0103211
Loss: Walter (1-6) 5.166653
Caleb Longley (ETSU) 512101
Christian Bailey (ETSU) 432301
Cullen Smith (ETSU) 412210
Prater (WCU) 513100
Holcomb (WCU) 503000
April 28, 2018123456789RHE
Western Carolina10303014012162
Win: Ryan Simpler (5-4) 6.0108722
Loss: Baker (1-6) 2.114121210
Ben Jackson (ETSU) 644101
Bigbie (WCU) 413210
C. Robinson (WCU) 523301
April 29, 2018123456789RHE
Western Carolina0012102118130
Win: Daniel Sweeney (3-2) 1.242211
Loss: Purus (1-10) 5.211101038
Chris Cook (ETSU) 533111
Baker (WCU) 513300
Bucs resume conference play at Western Carolina
Senior Aaron Maher celebrates a home run with teammates after ETSU's 2-0 win over Radford Wednesday night.
Bucs resume conference play at Western Carolina
Thursday, April 26, 2018

ETSU begins second half of SoCon play with struggling Catamounts

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.


Probable Starters

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.


Quick Facts

  • ETSU is outscoring opponents 36-5 in sixth innings this season.
  • Senior Chris Cook had an eight game hitting streak snapped last Tuesday against EKU — his longest this season. He’s hit safely in 15 of his last 16 games.
  • Cook had an impressive 29-game reached base streak snap a few weeks ago — a streak that dated back to the last 14 games of 2017.
  • Aaron Maher had a similar streak snap against William & Mary, reaching in 24 straight games. He’s now reached in 41 of his last 46 games dating back to 2017.
  • Speaking of Maher, who leads ETSU with six saves in 2018, the senior flex option earned his first career save in the 2017 SoCon Tournament opening win over Western Carolina.
  • ETSU holds a 16-1 record when scoring first.
  • The Bucs are 10-0 when scoring at least one run in the first inning and are also 9-0 when leading after the first inning.
  • The Bucs are 13-0 when leading after the fifth inning.
  • Through 37 games, ETSU is 15-1 when outhitting their opponents.
  • Nine is the magic number, as ETSU is 8-0 when scoring at least nine runs and 5-0 when scoring 10. 
  • ETSU is 16-2 when scoring six runs or more and have scored at least six in over half its games this year.


About WCU

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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