The baseball team started their conference play this past weekend, going up against the Samford University Bulldogs in Birmingham, Alabama. The Bucs prevailed in the series 2-1.

The first meeting between the teams, the Bucs had the momentum. The Bucs had an early lead in the first game with a score of 4-0. Caleb Longley (Cleveland, Tennessee) had four RBIs for the Bucs to gain those points.

Samford then came back and scored four unanswered points, tying the game going into the final innings. Freshman Ben Jackson (Guyton, Georgia) hit two RBI singles to add to the Bucs score, giving them the lead again.

The Bucs would score one more in the closing inning of the game with an insurance run made by senior Aaron Maher (Brentwood, Tennessee). The final score of the first game of the series ended as 7-4.

In the second game of the series Samford came out on top. The Bulldogs held the Bucs to no points until the seventh inning. However, the Bucs made some good plays in the game despite the loss. Sophomore Cullen Smith (Lebanon, Tennessee) singled a run to help Longley score the Bucs their first run of the game. A few plays later, senior Chris Cook (Kingsport, Tennessee) had an impressive hit to bring freshman David Beam (Knoxville, Tennessee) in to score.

The Bucs momentum would be halted as the Bulldogs defense held off long enough for the win. The Bulldogs would even the series with a score of 6-2.

The final game of the series was a close one. With the series now tied, both teams put in an excessive amount of effort in for the win. This game was a good pitching match with three Bucs getting to pitch.

Russell Koesters (Kingsport, Tennessee) pitched for the first four innings, allowing just one run and striking out two hitters with one walk off.  Drew Korzybski (Knoxville, Tennessee) also played for four innings, allowing just two hits after the Bucs pitched 3.2 hitless innings.

James Giambalvo (Alhambra, California) closed the last inning by striking out the final hitter.

Both teams only scored in the fifth inning. The Bucs would take the victory in the series with the final game score being 2-1.

This win marks the Bucs first victory in conference series play. The Bucs record stands at 13-7 with a record of 2-1 in conference play.

“As a senior I would like to go out as a conference champion,” said Longley.

ETSU followed the Samford series with a game Tuesday night at home against UNC Asheville. The Bucs took the victory, 12-4. Maher and Beam each led ETSU with three hits each, a career high for Beam.

The next conference series starts next week as the Bucs take on Mercer University.