Bucs push winning steak to six games

By Wes Holtsclaw

   JOHNSON CITY -- Up until the beginning of this month, the East Tennessee State baseball team was having a lackluster season.
   All of that changed last weekend as they continued into the team's series with SoCon rival Appalachian State at Cardinal Park.
   After taking two from the Mountaineers on Saturday, the Bucs started the week off right Sunday afternoon with 18 hits and overall solid outing from the mound to finish off their second straight sweep with a 14-2 win.
   It was the team's sixth straight win, seventh straight conference win and Coach Tony Skole's 100th victory as the Buccaneer baseball coach.
   "I was really proud of our kids all weekend," said Skole. "We got great starting pitching and we were able to get our offense going a little bit. I didn't drive any runs or get anybody out, but our kids sure did a great job."
   Skole has been pleased with the improvement shown by his team after their mid-season dry spell where they only won four of eleven games.
   "It's been getting better and better every week," the coach said. "We're a little more disciplined than we were at the beginning of the year. We've worked hard. Our inability to drive runs was something that frustrated us at the beginning of the year, now we seem to be getting timely hits."
   The Bucs (20-19, 11-10) host UNC-Asheville on Wednesday with a 7 p.m. nightcap before hitting the road for a trio at the College of Charleston to kick off nine big games to end the season.
   Junior catcher Caleb Moore and sophomore first-baseman Blake Church each had a perfect day at the plate, going four-of-four and three-for-three respectively to lead the team.
   "This sweep is great momentum for our team. The Asheville game in the middle of the week will be big," added Church, who also crossed the plate three times for the unit. "If we win this, it'll be seven in a row and give us a lot of confidence when we go down to Charleston."
   Each had a pair of doubles, while Moore drove across three runs with the two he hit.
   "It was a very good sweep for our team. We needed that badly going into Charleston next weekend," said Moore. "I'm feeling good right now. I saw the ball well. Hopefully, I can keep it going."
   Sophomore lefty Steven Callicutt earned his fifth win of the season from the mound after six solid innings. He gave up six hits and sat down four, while only giving up one run.
   Three errors proved costly for Appalachian during the game, while the team had a hard time bringing runs across the plate. The team had ten hits, but couldn't capitalize on the scoreboard.
   Shane Byrne and Tim Turner sealed the deal in the fifth inning for the Bucs after opening with a 7-0 lead when they both connected on two-run homers.
   The Mountaineers (5-30, 3-18) got their lone runs off freshman outfielder Doug Fowler, who went three-for-five with two RBIs.
   Joe Norton scored both of the runs in the fifth and seventh innings after his two-of-four performance.
   Norton took the loss for Appalachian from the mound before converting into a designated hitter after his removal before the fifth inning.
   He gave up ten hits in the first four innings, while giving up the first seven runs.
   Robert Reavis was blistered during the first half of the fifth for Appalachian as the Bucs got six of their next seven runs before the Mountaineers recorded their first out of the stanza.
   For the Bucs, however, Michael Bauer, Caleb Glafenhein and Josh Kite each put in an inning of relief to get some work before the tough stretch of games also including Virginia Tech, The Citadel, West Virginia, Tennessee Tech and Furman.
   "We've got nine tough games left," Skole said. "We sort of backed ourselves into a corner at the beginning of the year. We knew we needed to have these next two series and our kids responded.
   "We're a pretty confident team right now and that's something we haven't had here in a long time," he said. "It's good to know we're playing our best ball down the stretch."
   Byrne and Andy Howdeshell also added two hits apiece for ETSU, while Brad Peisel doubled in his two-of-five day for Appalachian.