JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Apr. 18, 2012) – Just three days after narrowly falling at Tennessee, the ETSU (16-19, 4-11 A-Sun) baseball team returns home for a key three-game Atlantic Sun series against Mercer (23-16, 6-9 A-Sun) at Thomas Stadium beginning Friday.
First pitch of the series opener on Friday will begin at 7:05 p.m. Game two on Saturday will start at 2:05, while Sunday’s series finale will be a 1:05 p.m. first pitch. Each game can be heard online at ETSUBucs.com.
ETSU senior righty John Long (Anderson, S.C.) (5-4, 3.82 ERA) will earn the start in Friday’s series opener and will oppose Mercer lefty Brandon Love (5-3, 4.18 ERA).
Long’s younger brother Jake Long (Anderson, S.C.) (2-4, 3.18 ERA) will earn the start on Saturday and will be matched up against Dimitri Kourtis (6-2, 4.04 ERA).
Sunday’s finale will pit ETSU righty Kerry Doane (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) (3-2, 3.45 ERA) against southpaw David Randall (2-3, 2.62 ERA).
After getting behind 5-1 through seven innings at Tennessee on Tuesday night, ETSU made a late rally with three runs in the eighth to pull to within one. However, the Vols were able to hold on for their first victory against the Bucs in six tries.
The new NCAA statistics were released on Monday and ETSU senior outfielder Matthew Scruggs (Knoxville, Tenn.) now leads the nation with 16 home runs. Meanwhile, fellow senior Dylan Pratt (Johnson City, Tenn.) is sixth nationally with 13 long balls. The duo combined to hit eight home runs over the weekend against USC Upstate. Pratt tied the school record with a three home run performance on Saturday against the Spartans, which included the game tying homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
Sophomore Clinton Freeman (Jonesborough, Tenn.) boasts the highest batting average on the Buccaneer squad at a .353 clip. Freeman has reached base in 29 straight games. He also has six doubles, three triples, five homers and 29 RBI, while leading the squad with a .408 on-base percentage.
Mercer ranks near the top of the Atlantic Sun in most hitting and pitching categories. The Bears rank first in the league in slugging percentage (.472), on-base percentage (.392), RBIs (241), doubles (80), home runs (47) and total bases (625). Meanwhile, the Mercer pitching staff has allowed the fewest earned runs in the league (126).
Redshirt sophomore Nick Backlund leads the Mercer charge on the offensive end as he leads the Atlantic Sun in batting average (.426), slugging percentage (.727), on-base percentage (.500), hits (63), doubles (16), RBIs (41) and total bases (112). Derrick Workman (.350), Evan Boyd (.348) and Chesny Young (.321) are each batting over .320 to lead a Mercer squad that is hitting a solid .298 as a team.
Mercer leads the all-time series against ETSU, 18-7. The Bears have won the season series against the Bucs in two straight years.
For more information on ETSU baseball, please visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the baseball link.