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Bucs to open with Wofford in SoCon tourney

Joe Avento • Updated May 22, 2018 at 8:31 PM

The postseason begins for the East Tennessee State baseball team Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. when the Bucs take on Wofford in the Southern Conference tournament at Fluor Field in Greenville, South Carolina.

ETSU’s opener is a rematch. The two teams met on the final weekend of the regular season with the Terriers taking two of three games. Wofford closed the series with a 9-8 victory that took 11 innings.

The sixth-seeded Bucs come in 27-23 overall and have beaten every team in the conference other than Mercer at least once.

Individually, Chris Cook could break a significant school record this week. ETSU’s senior shortstop from Kingsport has 304 hits in his career, ranking second in school history. Paul Hoilman holds the record of 307, set from 2008-11.

Cook, who leads the team with a .361 batting average, was one of six ETSU players to earn All-SoCon honors. He joined first baseman Christian Bailey and designated hitter Caleb Longley on the first team.

Bucs pitcher Ryan Simpler has a chance to become the school’s all-time strikeout leader. Simpler (6-6, 5.46 ERA) enters the tournament with 313 strikeouts. Reid Casey holds the record with 323.

No. 3 Wofford is 35-21 and had two second-team all-conference selections in pitcher Adam Scott and outfielder McClain Bradley. Scott (8-5, 3-18 ERA) is the NCAA Division I active leader in strikeouts and innings pitched. He leads the SoCon with 124 strikeouts. Bradley is hitting .350.

A good opening inning could set the tone for the Bucs, who are 15-1 when scoring in the first inning and 20-2 when scoring first.

The Bucs’ last conference tournament championship came in 2013 when they won the Atlantic Sun Conference title. They made the SoCon semifinals last year. This is new coach Joe Pennucci’s first season with ETSU.

UNC Greensboro is the top seed in the field and will take on Western Carolina in its opening game on Wednesday. The Catamounts beat The Citadel and former ETSU coach Tony Skole 6-5 in a play-in game on Tuesday.

The double-elimination tournament wraps up on Sunday. All games are being played at Fluor Field, the home of the Class AA Greenville Drive.

The tournament champion gets the SoCon’s automatic NCAA tournament bid.

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Pairings

Southern Conference tournament

At Fluor Field, Greenville, S.C.

Tuesday

Game 1— No. 9 Western Carolina 6, No. 8 The Citadel 5

Wednesday

Game 2—No. 4 VMI vs. No. 5 Mercer, 9 a.m.

Game 3—No. 1 UNCG vs. No. 9 Western Carolina, 12:30 p.m.

Game 4—No. 2 Samford vs. No. 7 Furman, 4 p.m.

Game 5—No. 3 Wofford vs. No. 6 ETSU, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday

Game 6—Loser game 2 vs. Loser game 3, 9 a.m.

Game 7—Loser game 4 vs. Loser game 5, 12:30 p.m.

Game 8—Winner game 2 vs. Winner game 3, 4 p.m.

Game 9—Winner game 4 vs. Winner game 5, 7:30 p.m.

Friday

Game 10—Winner game 7 vs. Loser game 8, 3:30 p.m.

Game 11—Winner game 6 vs. Loser game 9, 7 p.m.

Saturday

Game 12—Winner game 8 vs. Winner game 9, noon

Game 13—Winner game 10 vs. Winner game 11, 3:30 p.m.

Game 14—Winner game 13 vs. Loser game 12, 7 p.m.

Sunday

Game 15—Winner game 12 vs. Winner game 14, noon

*Game 16—Winner game 15 vs. Loser game 15, 40 minutes after Game 15

*-if necessary

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