ANDERSON, S.C. – The Anderson baseball team will wrap up its four-game homestand by playing host to Carson-Newman for a three-game South Atlantic Conference series, beginning with a single game Friday night at Memorial Stadium. First-pitch is slated for 6 p.m.
With nine league games remaining in the regular season, both teams are battling for a second consecutive berth in the eight-team postseason SAC Tournament. The Eagles are entering the weekend tied for fourth, while the Trojans are one game further back in a tie for eighth with Lenoir-Rhyne.
WHO: Carson-Newman Eagles (22-15, 8-7 SAC) at Anderson Trojans (16-22, 7-8 SAC)
WHERE: Anderson Memorial Stadium
WHEN: Friday, 6 p.m./Saturday, 1 p.m.
Live Stats: AUTROJANS.COM
Video: AUTROJANS.COM (Friday)
Audio: AUTROJANS.COM or REDZONEMEDIA.COM
Anderson has won three of its last four outings after sweeping Peach Belt Conference-foe Young Harris last weekend and has claimed victories in four of its last six conference decisions.
Senior Steven Cooper continues to pace the league with a .534 on-base percentage after being walked 23 times in his last 15 games, while standing fourth in the SAC with a .739 slugging percentage on the strength of a team-leading 16 doubles and eight home runs. Cooper is third in the nation in walks with 38 on the year.
The native of Williamston, S.C., has reached base safely in 24 of his last 25 games and ranks in the top-15 in the SAC in 11 statistical categories - on-base percentage (.534/1st), walks (38/1st), doubles (16/3rd), slugging percentage (.739/4th), runs scored (40/8th), RBI (44/5th), total bases (88/9th), batting average (.403/6th), sacrifice flies (4/7th), home runs (8/10th) and hits (48/15th).
Freshman Carson Barrett carries a five-game hitting streak into the weekend series and has gotten on base in seven straight contests, while recording eight hits in a five-game stretch and hitting .397 on the season. The designated hitter/first baseman would rank seventh in the South Atlantic Conference, but has not appeared in enough contests.
Junior Xavier Peralta, who has four RBI in his last three games, is hitting .352 in 21 games while platooning at second base. Sophomore Tyler Miller saw his six-game hitting streak snapped in the mid-week loss to Limestone, but still reached base twice on a pair of walks and has gotten on base in all but three of his 36 starts on the season, while batting .343.
Senior LJ Newman, who is tied for fourth in the conference with a team-high 10 home runs, has four homers in the last seven games and has driven in 14 runs in the last eight contests, while hitting .319 on the season. Graduate student Garrett Bernardohas posted 10 hits in the last four games, while raising his batting average 44 percentage points to .308 in a seven-game span.
Senior closer Brock Goodling, who is currently tied for tops in the nation with 10 saves on the season, has notched a save in each of his last five appearances.
Andrew Dill and Mitchell Cooksey each have four wins on the season, while sophomore Nick Contafio has recorded three victories. Cooksey, a right-hander, continues to lead the pitching staff with a 2.10 ERA in 13 appearances, including one start.
LAST TIME OUT
The Trojans opened the homestand with a 14-4 loss to Conference Carolinas’ opponent Limestone two nights ago at Memorial Stadium.
Bailey was 2-for-4 at the plate with a single, a double and a walk. Bernardo added a pair of singles and a walk, with Cooper going 2-for-4, with a walk.
Junior Thomas Smith (2-4) absorbed the loss after surrendering nine runs on nine hits in 3 2/3 innings of work. He walked two and struck out one.
The Saints erupted for eight runs with two outs in the fourth inning to overcome a 2-1 AU lead. Cooper’s one-out single with Matthew Powell and Bailey on base in the bottom of the fourth trimmed Limestone’s lead to 9-4, but it was as close as the Trojans would get, as the Saints posted a pair of runs in both the eighth and ninth innings to set the final score.
The Trojans stranded 14 baserunners on the night and recorded nine hits, but just one for extra bases. Eleven of Limestone’s runs came with two outs.
SCOUTING THE EAGLES
Carson-Newman (22-15, 8-7 SAC) was tabbed to finish seventh in the South Atlantic Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll, after posting a 25-21 overall record and going 12-18 in the SAC last season. The Eagles finished eighth in the league standings and were eliminated, 17-9, by fifth-seeded Wingate on the opening day of the 2015 SAC Tournament. Carson-Newman finished the 2015 season with a winning record for the first time since 2012.
All-Southeast Region selection Vince Apicella returned for his senior season and was expected to lead the pitching staff after tying the school's Division II mark for complete games last season with six and ranking second with 111 strikeouts in a season.
The left-hander became the first Eagle since 2011 to earn a spot on the Preseason All-SAC First Team. He was also named a Preseason Second-Team All-Southeast Region honoree by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association after twice being named the conference's pitcher of the week in 2015.
Apicella was named SAC Pitcher of the Week and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Southeast Region Pitcher of the Week in mid-February, after tossing eight innings in an extra-inning 1-0 win over Virginia-Wise. He tossed his sixth career complete game, while notching 10 strikeouts.
Senior third baseman Brandon Roberts was named the SAC Player of the Week on March 1, after Carson-Newman posted its first-ever four-game sweep against McKendree at home. Roberts tallied seven hits, three home runs, six RBI and 10 runs scored.
Carson-Newman, which opens a four-game road swing with the weekend series, saw its win streak halted at three after falling, 9-8, to Shorter Wednesday night. The Eagles have won five of their last seven decisions, with all of the victories coming during a nine-game homestand. The Eagles are second in the SAC and rank 17th in the nation with 40 home runs on the season, with sophomore Cade Snapp belting 10 on the season.
Carson-Newman boasts a .302 batting average as a team, while Roberts ranks third in the league with a .409 average at the plate. The senior also ranks third in the SAC with 56 hits, fourth with 44 RBI and fifth with a .686 slugging percentage.
Apicella leads the C-N pitching staff with a 6-2 record on the season and has tossed a league-leading four complete games in nine appearances, with a pair of shutouts. He is second in the SAC with 75 strikeouts and averages nearly 11 K’s per contest.
THE SERIES vs. CARSON-NEWMAN
Last year’s series was moved to the Electric City after Carson-Newman’s home site was deemed unplayable, with Carson-Newman winning 2-of-3 at Memorial Stadium.
Anderson opens a season-high eight-game homestand Wednesday at Lander.
The Trojans will be looking to avenge a 24-3 loss to the Bearcats, suffered March 23 at Memorial Stadium, with first pitch in Greenwood, S.C. set for 6 p.m.