no avatar

Bucs to put unbeaten home streak on line against Vols

Jeff Birchfield • Mar 19, 2019 at 12:44 AM

Perfect in their first dozen home games, the East Tennessee State baseball team will put that undefeated streak and five-game winning streak overall on the line against No. 22 Tennessee on Tuesday night at Thomas Stadium.

Game time is set for 6 p.m.

The Bucs (14-4) have swept four home series, the latest coming Sunday with a 3-2 win over NJIT after junior Ethan Cady's eighth-inning home run. Tennessee (17-4) presents a challenge as three of ETSU's four losses have come against Power 5 conference teams in Virginia Tech, Clemson, and Vanderbilt.

The Vols are licking their wounds after getting swept by Southeastern Conference foe Auburn over the weekend. Of the Tennessee players who have appeared in 16 or more games, four are hitting over .300, led by Alerick Soularie with a .377 batting average and seven home runs. Ricky Martinez has a .375 average and Andre Lipcius has batted in 22 runs.

ETSU is waiting to game day to announce its starting pitcher. Sean Hunley (3-0) is the projected starter for Tennessee. The sophomore right-hander has a 2.33 ERA, throwing 13 strikeouts and giving up 12 hits and six runs over 19 1/3 innings.

Cullen Smith leads ETSU at the plate with a .400 batting average. He also leads the Bucs with seven doubles, 45 total bases and 19 runs scored. Colby Emmertz is sporting a .380 average, while other leaders include Cady with 19 RBIs and Cade Gilbert with six doubles and 18 RBIs. Jackson Greer, Smith and Cady each have hit four home runs.

Last season, the Bucs won two games, 10-9 and 9-6, against the Vols in Knoxville and dropped a 6-2 decision in Johnson City. Tennessee holds a 65-19 all-time series lead, although the teams have split the last six meetings.