April 05, 2019123456789RHE
Win: Will Lopez (1-0) 1.011100
Loss: Matthew Mercer (1-1) 1.124321
Jake Lyle (ETSU) 423101
Ethan Shelton (ETSU) 523201
Callen Nuccio (VMI) 502200
Jake Huggins (VMI) 412401
Josh Hollifield (VMI) 412000
Ryan Smoot (VMI) 322010
April 06, 2019123456789RHE
Win: Landon Knack (7-0) 7.083304
Loss: Adam Jewell (0-5) 1.247740
David Beam (ETSU) 534601
Will Knight (VMI) 412000
Ryan Hatten (VMI) 302100
April 07, 2019123456789RHE
Win: Zak Kent (4-2) 8.0600412
Loss: Daniel Sweeney (4-2) 5.285317
David Beam (ETSU) 302010
Josh Hollifield (VMI) 422000
Ryan Hatten (VMI) 422201
Bucs return to conference play at VMI
Bucs return to conference play at VMI
Thursday, April 4, 2019

ETSU baseball looks to remain only unbeaten team in SoCon

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (April 4, 2019) – For the first time this season, ETSU baseball will hit the road for a Southern Conference weekend series as the Bucs face VMI (6-23, 2-4) in a three-game set April 5-7 in Lexington, Va.

Friday’s series opener will begin at 6 p.m. Saturday’s contest is slated for 2 p.m., while Sunday’s series finale is set for 1 p.m.

The Bucs (22-6, 3-0) are the lone team in the SoCon yet to lose a conference game, sweeping its only series of the year against Western Carolina a couple of weekends ago.


Game Day Central

All three contests will stream on ESPN+ — a subscription-based streaming service for $4.99 a month or a seven-day free trial. Live stats are also available. Admission is free.

Friday: Live Video / Live Stats

Saturday: Live Video / Live Stats

Sunday: Live Video / Live Stats


Projected Starters

Friday: RHP Micah Kaczor (4-0, 2.06 ERA) vs. RHP Jacob Menders (2-2, 3.25 ERA)

Saturday: RHP Landon Knack (6-0, 1.61 ERA) vs. RHP Adam Jewell (0-4, 3.95 ERA)

Sunday: RHP Daniel Sweeney (4-0, 2.61 ERA) vs. RPH Zak Kent (3-2, 3.88 ERA)


Series History

In 96 all-time contests, ETSU holds a 54-42 advantage.

Since rejoining the Southern Conference in 2015, the Bucs have won 11 of the last 13 matchups. ETSU has won every series in that span with two sweeps, while also knocking off the Keydets in an elimination game with a 12-11 walk-off win during the 2017 SoCon Tournament.

VMI took the first game of last season’s series in a tight 8-7 contest, but ETSU took both games of a double header to tie and take the series (6-4, 7-3). Last year’s VMI series was a memorable one for David Beam (Knoxville) as he clubbed both of his first career homers as a freshman.


Quick Notes

ETSU rode a seven game win streak through last weekend — its longest of the Pennucci Era and longest since 2013.

Some of those wins have been by the skin of their teeth, as ETSU has eight wins by a one-run margin this season. The Bucs had four all of last season, doubling that total at the midway point of 2019.

Following last weekend, the Bucs are one of five teams to have at least five weekend sweeps this season, while joining Arizona State and Georgia as the only three teams in the nation to own seven series wins (three or four game series).

With a 19-2 home record, ETSU is also one of three teams in the nation to have at least 19 home wins with two or less losses, joining North Carolina (19-2) and Arizona State (22-1).

After receiving six votes in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll last week, ETSU picked up one vote to remain in consideration for the Top 25. ETSU has been ranked as high as 58th in the RPI rankings, but dropped 30 spots to 88th this week. The Bucs join UNCG (77th) as the only two SoCon schools in the top 100.

The Blue and Gold are seeking their third straight winning season this year and would do so for the first time since 1981-83 with a winning effort in 2019.

The Bucs have 25 newcomers in 2019, their largest turnover in the last 30 seasons and the most reported newcomers in the nation this year. ETSU also has its second-largest roster in that span with 10 returners, making up a 35-man roster.


About the Bucs

Offensively, the Bucs are led by junior catcher Jackson Greer (Knoxville) with a .347 batting average, including nine doubles, five homers, a triple and 23 RBI. Junior second baseman Cullen Smith (Lebanon) bats .343 and leads the way in doubles (10) and hits (34).

Consistently climbing his way up the batting order, freshman Ethan Shelton (Lebanon) wields a hot bat with 10 extra base hits in the last nine games. He has also hit safely in seven of his last nine games.

On the mound, ETSU has used 13 pitchers and own a 3.40 ERA as a staff — tops in the Southern Conference and No. 31 in all of NCAA D1.

Among those pitchers are weekend starters Micah Kaczor (Washington, D.C.), Landon Knack (Johnson City) and Daniel Sweeney (Johnson City) who combine for a 14-1 record and each have ERA’s that rank top-10 in the SoCon.

Knack has emerged as the leader with a 6-0 record and 1.61 ERA. Knack leads the staff with 48 strikeouts and 44.2 innings, while leading the SoCon in victories. Dating back to his JUCO days at Walters State, Knack has won 19 straight decisions on the bump.

Kaczor continues to hold down the ace role with a 2.06 ERA and a 4-0 record, including seven scoreless innings in his last outing against Georgetown. Sweeney, who starts Sundays, has a 4-1 record, 2.61 ERA and a 37:6 strikeout-to-walk ratio.


About VMI

The Keydets come into the weekend with a 6-23 record and a 2-4 mark in conference play.

As a team, VMI is hitting .225 and has an ERA of 5.80.

VMI took its conference opener from The Citadel two weeks back to open SoCon play 1-0, but would fall in a pair of one-run losses after that — one of which went 10 innings. This past weekend, VMI dropped the first two games to Samford before winning the series finale against the reigning SoCon champs.

VMI experience a large roster turnover this past offseason, but one key returner has been senior infielder Jake Huggins. Huggins leads the Keydets with a .282 batting average, 18 RBI and a .402 slugging percentage.

On the mound, the key arm has been junior right-hander Zak Kent. Kent comes into the weekend with 69 strikeouts, ranking fourth in the nation. Last week against Samford, Kent impressed with 14 strikeouts over 8.2 innings in a 5-4 win.


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