JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – ETSU baseball began conference play on Friday night, welcoming in Samford for a three-game weekend set. New ETSU head men’s basketball coach, Brooks Savage, kicked things off with a ceremonial first pitch.

It was not the start the Bucs were looking for, however, as the visitors exploded for eight runs in the eighth inning, propelling them to a 19-7 win.

A pair of first-inning RBIs put Samford (12-10) quickly ahead, 2-0. But, Cameron Sisneros cut the lead in half with a towering solo homerun to right-center field in the second.

Leading 3-2 in the fourth inning, the Bulldogs allowed Garett Wallace to go deep to right field, knotting the game, 3-3.

Two big innings, however, separated the visitors for their hosts – as Samford plated seven runs in the fifth inning and then eight more in the eighth, ending the game on the mercy rule.

Sisneros paced the Bucs’ offensive effort batting 3-fo-4 with a pair of homeruns and 3 RBI. Wallace and Noah Webb each blasted homers in the loss, as well.

Samford’s Lucan Steele led the way with 6 RBI on a trio of hits, while leadoff man Garrett Stanton drove home four more runs.

Landon Smiddy pitched 4.0 innings for the Bucs in a no-decision, allowing three runs on six hits while striking out five batters.

The two teams return to Thomas Stadium on Saturday for Game 2 of the series. First pitch is slated for 2 p.m.