April 4, 2014
Greensboro, N.C. - Western Carolina baseball opens a three-game Southern Conference series against UNCG on Friday evening at the on-campus UNCG Baseball Stadium. The teams square-off at 6:00 pm in the opener, 2:00 pm on Saturday and the finale on Sunday at 1:00 pm. Admission is free for all fans.
All three games of the series are scheduled to be broadcast on the Catamount Sports Network with a 15 minute pregame show ahead of the announced start time. Fans can listen online with live streaming audio (free) through CatamountSports.com with Friday's game slated to be carried by 540 AM WRGC in Sylva.
League-leading Western Carolina (17-9, 5-1 SoCon) is riding a six-game win streak including five-straight in conference play. Overall, WCU has won nine of its last 11 games on the season. After taking the final two games of its series at Elon and sweeping Wofford last weekend at home, the Catamounts have claimed nine-consecutive SoCon series dating back to last season, and have wins in 21 of their last 23 league games.
For WCU, senior Cody Jones enters the weekend having reached base safely in a career-long 18-straight games which includes a team-best nine-game hitting streak. The Enka, N.C., product has hits in 17 of his last 18 games to raise his seasonal batting average to .343. Junior Jacob Hoyle, who is second on the team with 25 RBI, is riding a six-game hit streak.
WCU hopes to have the services of senior Dykota Spiess back in the lineup. The Morganton, N.C., product has missed the last four games - and five of the last six - with a rib-cage injury.
On Thursday afternoon, senior Adam Martin collected SoCon Player of the Month accolades - the second Catamount to earn monthly honors from the league this season, joining Friday night battery-mate, Jeremy Null, who was Pitcher of the Month in February. Martin, who enjoyed an 11-game hitting streak during the month but saw it snapped Tuesday against UNC Asheville, hit .415 during March with 35 of his team-leading 38 RBI and all eight of his team-best home runs.
Western Carolina is scheduled to start junior RHP Jeremy Null on Friday, with senior right-handers T.J. Fussell and Jordan Smith slated for the weekend games. Null is 1-0 all-time against UNCG, striking out six in 7.1 innings of work against the Spartans a season ago. Smith is expected to make his fourth career start against UNCG, holding a 2-1 record in 19.2 innings pitched with 17 strikeouts against four walks in his storied career against the Spartans. Fussell will make his first appearance against UNCG.
This weekend marks the second-consecutive year that the Catamounts travel to UNCG for the SoCon series. WCU swept the Spartans a year ago, winning 7-3 on Friday before taking a Saturday doubleheader by counts of 10-7 and 15-5. The Catamounts have won the series the past two seasons after dropping two-straight in 2010 and 2011, and have won five of the last six meetings. Despite that success, WCU still trails in the series, 25-29, including a 14-16 mark in games played in Greensboro.
UNCG (14-13, 2-3 SoCon) has won four of its last six games on the year, but dropped two at Appalachian State last weekend before the series finale was canceled due to inclement weather in Boone. The Spartans took a midweek game from local-rival, North Carolina A&T, back on Wednesday.
UNCG ranks second in the SoCon in batting average (.306) with seven players hitting .304-or-better, and leads the league in two statistical categories - triples (12) and fewest strikeouts (157).
Projected Pitching Match-Ups: Friday: WCU - Jeremy Null, RHP (3-1, 1.58 ERA) vs. UNCG - Ryan Clark, RHP (1-3, 2.11 ERA) Saturday: WCU - T.J. Fussell, RHP (1-2, 5.52 ERA) vs. UNCG - Max Povse, RHP (4-2, 3.98 ERA) Sunday: WCU - Jordan Smith, RHP (3-2, 4.26 ERA) vs. UNCG - Lee Gilliam, RHP (0-1, 14.04 ERA)