ANDERSON, S.C. – Opening up its South Atlantic Conference schedule, Anderson University baseball returns to the diamond on Friday when its looks to get a jump start in the conference standings as the Trojans head to Mars Hill for a three-game set. The opening game of the series is slated for Friday at 2 p.m., while a doubleheader is scheduled for Saturday beginning at noon.
AU seeks a breakaway from its losing skid to begin season, after dropping three to nationally-ranked UNC Pembroke last weekend and falling to long-time archrival Erskine in the Flying Fleet’s home opener on Tuesday. With the addition to Coker to the league this season, this will be the earliest AU will begin conference play since joining the SAC prior to the 2011 season.
Despite the slow start in the win column, the Trojans’ bats have been strong as senior outfielder Nathan Galliford currently leads the conference in home runs, as he knocked two over the wall during the three-game set against UNCP. Currently, Galliford is the only player in the conference with multiple home runs and tied for fifth in the league in RBI with five.
Senior right-hander Thomas Goodman tossed six innings of shutout baseball in Game Two of the doubleheader against the Braves, but settled for the loss due to a late Pembroke rally. Goodman is tied for seventh in the league in innings pitched, despite earning his first loss of the season.
Mars Hill also suffered three setbacks to begin the season, as the Lions fell to Limestone (2-1), Pfeiffer (9-4) and Francis Marion (6-4) at the Carolinas Hospital System Tournament in Florence, S.C. last weekend. On Wednesday, the Lions dropped their fourth straight game this year at Belmont Abbey (11-5).
Despite the losses, senior right-hander Dale Innes shined in Game Two of the four-team tournament, tossing four of the game’s seven innings and striking out nine Pfeiffer batters. The nine strikeouts are the most by any pitcher in the conference in the opening week of games. Despite the strikeouts, Innes received a no decision, as the Falcons crossed five runs in the sixth inning to take the five-run win.
Sophomore infielder Evan Rogers leads the Lion offense, as he enters the weekend series hitting .467 (7-for-15) with four runs scored. Classmate Phillip Carroll closely follows batting .357 with three runs scored and three extra base hits, including the team’s only triple.
Anderson holds a 5-4 advantage in the series dating back to AU’s first season in the SAC in 2011. Last season, the Trojans grabbed the three-game sweep over the Lions scoring at least seven runs in all three games.