Trojan Baseball Tabbed 10th in Preseason SAC Coaches' PollJanuary 29, 2013
Sanderson Earns Second-Team Designated Hitter Honors
ROCK HILL, S.C. –Tusculum and Catawba, which finished first and second, respectively, in last year’s South Atlantic Conference baseball standings, have tied for the top spot in the 2013 SAC preseason coaches’ poll, as announced by the league office on Tuesday.
Senior Erick Sanderson earned Preseason Second-Team All-Conference designated hitter accolades after leading the Trojans in home runs (9), RBI (39) and slugging percentage (.537) last season, while ranking second on the squad in runs scored (29) and third in doubles with 10. He posted 13 multiple hit games and recorded a seven-game hitting streak in March. The 6-foot-4 right-hander also earned three wins on the mound, while notching a team-high seven complete games, including one shutout in 12 appearances.
Head Coach Joe Miller will need to replace gold-glove winner Blake May and First-Team All-SAC selection Brett Scarberry, who were fixtures at third base and behind the plate, respectively, a year ago. Shortstop Thomas Padro and outfielders Zach Reeves and Ryan Kirland have also departed, but buoyed by a number of players who regularly saw action last season and the return of nine hurlers who saw time on the mound, the Trojans are looking to make an impact in the league this season. The intact pitching staff has also been bolstered by the addition of at least 10 newcomers battling for time on the hill.
Sophomore infielder Brett Cash returns after starting 44 games as a freshman for the Trojans last season, while batting .275 and recording seven doubles. Junior Paul Como, who saw time in the outfield as well as at the designated hitter spot, is back after appearing in 37 contests a year ago, hitting .255 and notching seven hits for extra bases.
Senior infielder Tony Price, who saw action on the right side of the infield while appearing in 36 games, also returns after posting a .252 batting average and recording three home runs, three doubles and a pair of doubles.
Anderson opens the season with a three-game series at UNC Pembroke this weekend, starting with a Saturday twinbill. First-pitch versus the Braves is slated for 2 p.m.
The Pioneers and Indians, who finished first and second, respectively, in last year’s SAC baseball standings, tied for the top spot in the poll.
Both Catawba and Tusculum received five first-place votes in the poll. The Indians are ranked No. 13 in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper preseason national poll, while the Pioneers are No. 17.
Tusculum is coming off a 2012 season in which it went 48-10 overall, including a SAC-record 24 conference wins. In addition to the SAC regular-season title, TC also won the 2012 Food Lion SAC Baseball Tournament.
The Pioneers, who led the conference in team batting average and team ERA in 2012, reached the regional semifinal round of the NCAA Division II Baseball Championship before being eliminated.
Catawba, meanwhile, went 23-4 in SAC play last season before going on a historic run to reach the NCAA Baseball World Series for the first time in school history. After earning an at-large selection to the tournament, the Indians won four elimination games in the Southeast Regional and advanced to the World Series’ third round, where they were finally eliminated by eventual national champion West Chester.
Catawba was the first SAC program to reach the World Series since Gardner-Webb in 2000.
Wingate, which was the runner-up at the 2012 SAC Baseball Tournament, is No. 3 in the preseason poll, followed by No. 4 Brevard and No. 5 Carson-Newman.
Wingate’s .544 slugging percentage was the SAC’s best last season, while Brevard’s 500 hits allowed were the league’s second-fewest and the Carson-Newman pitching staff’s 3.48 walks per nine innings rate ranked third in the conference.
The remaining five spots in the preseason poll mirrored the final 2012 SAC standings with Newberry at No. 6, Lincoln Memorial at No. 7, Mars Hill at No. 8, Lenoir-Rhyne at No. 9 and Anderson at No. 10.
The 2013 preseason All-SAC Team was also revealed on Tuesday, with Tusculum and Catawba leading the way with six selections apiece.
The first-team infield consisted of Wingate catcher Josh Clark, Wingate first baseman Brian Yeung, Lincoln Memorial second baseman Andre Rodriguez, Tusculum shortstop Tripper Crisson and Tusculum third baseman Cade Stallings.
Yeung ranked second in the SAC with 21 doubles and fifth with 79 hits last season, while Stallings was second in runs scored with 64 and fourth in hits with 80. The two players also tied for third in the conference in RBI with 63.
Crisson led the SAC with 175 assists in 2012, Rodriguez’s .494 on-base percentage ranked sixth, and Clark hit .345 while throwing out 14 runners from behind the plate.
Making up the first-team outfield were Catawba’s Ethan Satterfield, Brevard’s Champ Stuart and LMU’s Cody Baker.
Stuart led the SAC with a .419 batting average in 2012, Baker’s 25 stolen bases ranked second in the league and Satterfield’s 88 hits were third.
Catawba’s Garrett Furr, who hit .316 with 13 doubles and 10 home runs in 2012, is the preseason first-team DH.
Catawba’s Nick Lomascolo and Tusculum teammates Taylor Rakes and Adam Sigmon were the first-team starting pitchers, while TC’s John-Austin Shepard is the first-team reliever.
Rakes’ 3.18 ERA ranked third in the SAC last season, Lomascolo’s 3.70 ERA was fifth and Sigmon’s 4.07 mark was eighth. Additionally, Lomascolo led the conference in innings pitched, while Rakes ranked fifth and Sigmon was sixth.
Shepard finished 2012 with 39 strikeouts in 30.1 innings pitched and a league-best eight saves.
On the preseason All-SAC Second Team were LMU catcher Nick Pressley, Catawba first baseman Chris Dula, Brevard second baseman Chad Funkhouser, LMU shortstop Curt Fuqua and Brevard third baseman Eric Renegar make up the infield.
Wingate’s Thomas Spitz, Newberry’s Wesley Camp and Lenoir-Rhyne’s Ivan Vieitez make up the second-team outfield, while Sanderson was selected as the second-team DH.
The second-team pitching staff consists of starting pitchers John Tuttle of Catawba, Olen Little of Wingate and Zeke McGranahan of Tusculum, and Catawba reliever Craig Brooks.
Rodriguez, Stallings, Satterfield, Furr and Shepard were members of the 2012 All-SAC First Team, while Stuart, Lomascolo, Rakes and Funkhouser were second-team picks.
2013 SAC Baseball Preseason Coaches’ Poll
Team Points (1st-place)
1. Catawba 77 (5)
Tusculum 77 (5)
3. Wingate 62
4. Brevard 56
5. Carson-Newman 46
6. Newberry 45
7. Lincoln Memorial 34
8. Mars Hill 20
9. Lenoir-Rhyne 17
10. Anderson 16