The Bucs opened up their 2019 campaign hosting Iona at Thomas Stadium. Last season, head coach Joe Pennucci in his first season with the Bucs recorded a winning record with 28 wins. In his second year, he looks for improvements.
Senior Micah Kaczor (Washington, D.C.) got the start on the mound for the Bucs in the opener of the three-game series. Kaczor was solid in his debut, especially through the first five innings where he allowed no runs.
The Bucs got the first run of the game in the fourth inning when Ethan Cady (Soddy Daisy, Tennessee) stole home after an Iona error.
After Kaczor was replaced in the sixth inning, the Bucs defense remained solid allowing no runs through seven innings. Offensively, the Bucs got their second score as Cade Gilbert (Ringgold,Georgia) knocked in a run, singling down the right-field line.
Despite being shutout for seven innings, Iona responded scoring three runs in the eighth inning. The pressure was on for the Bucs until catcher Justin Greer (Knoxville, Tennessee) stepped up in the bottom of the eighth inning with one runner on base. Greer hit a home-run to knock in the game winning scores. The Bucs took the opener winning 4-3.
With a chance to start the season 2-0, the Bucs needed their offense to shine in game two. Iona jumped on the Bucs early, scoring three runs in just the first inning.
The Bucs responded in the second inning as Gilbert hit an RBI to bring the Iona lead down to 3-1. That momentum carried into the third inning as the Bucs’ offense exploded. Greer hit a grand slam in the inning to give the Bucs a 5-3 lead.
Left-fielder Ethan Shelton (Lebanon, Tennessee) singled to left center, allowing two runners to come in and score. At the end of the third, the Bucs took a 7-3 lead. After cooling off innings four through six, the Bucs eventually got back on track offensively scoring seven runs in innings seven and eight combined.
The Bucs scored 14 unanswered runs, winning 14-3 and starting the season 2-0. The Bucs showed a lot of promising things the first two games of the season, most noticeably the control the pitchers had whether it was from veterans or newcomers.
“These guys know that they have to count on the guy next to them, the guy behind him and the guy in front of him,” said ETSU head coach Joe Pennucci according to the ETSU Athletics website. “That’s what we did. I think we were able to pass it along, get on base and get one in.”