Bucs look for season sweep of Vols

Jeff Birchfield • Apr 16, 2018 at 5:24 PM

The East Tennessee State University baseball team will look to pull off a season sweep of Tennessee when the teams meet Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Thomas Stadium. If the Bucs win, it would mark the first time either team has won three games over the other in a single season.

It is the Bucs' Blue-Out Game with fans encouraged to wear their blue ETSU attire.

With a go-ahead RBI double from former Unicoi County standout Ethan Rice, the Bucs (18-14) rallied for a 10-9 win over the Vols back on March 2. Chris Cook went 4-for-6 and the Bucs pounded out 15 hits overall, giving Corey Bates his first win as a Buc. ETSU won the second game 9-6 on March 20 as the Bucs had three hits from Christian Bailey and 13 overall to give reliever James Giambalvo the victory.

Former Dobyns-Bennett standouts Cook and Bailey lead ETSU in hitting. Cook has a .328 batting average, while Bailey is hitting at a .322 clip. Caleb Longley is hitting .309 with six home runs, 12 doubles and is tied with Bailey with a team-best 27 RBIs.

Tennessee (21-17) is coming off the losing end of a three-game sweep at No. 19 LSU, including a 9-7 defeat on Sunday. ETSU split a doubleheader in its last outing at UNC Greensboro on Saturday. The Vols are hitting .259 as a team, led by outfielder Justin Ammons, who has a .312 batting average. Senior catcher Benito Santiago is second on the team with a .291 average and the leading power hitter with five home runs, 13 doubles and 69 total bases.

The Bucs have not named a starting pitcher, although junior Daniel Sweeney (1-0) has started the last five midweek games. Sean Hunley (6-0) is expected to start for Tennessee. He threw 11 strikeouts and gave up just four hits last Tuesday in the Vols’ 9-0 win over UT-Martin. 

The Vols lead the all-time series 64-19, but the Bucs have had their share of success in recent years. Tennessee holds just a 7-5 advantage over the last 12 games.

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