ANDERSON, S.C. – Using just two pitchers for the afternoon, Anderson University baseball completed the series sweep over South Atlantic Conference newcomer, Coker, with a 6-3 win in the opening game, followed by a 5-4 victory in the final game to clinch the winning weekend Saturday afternoon at Anderson Memorial Stadium.
With the back-to-back victories, the Trojans are currently riding a four-game winning streak after pulling out a marathon win over North Greenville, 22-12, on Thursday night and followed with a 9-5 win over the Cobras on Friday. The wins propel AU up the SAC standings as four teams currently carry three conference losses, but sit at the top of the league, which includes the Trojans at 6-3.
“This (sweep) was exactly what this team needed,” Anderson head coach Joe Miller said. “We have been playing hard these past few weeks and we ended up on the wrong side of the scoreboard. It feels good to get these wins over a good team.”
The wins were highlighted by two stellar pitching performances from starters Thomas Goodman and Landon Beck. Goodman started the first game on the hill and recorded his fourth career complete game, striking out eight Coker hitters and walked none. The senior gave up three runs and faced just 34 batters for the game, earning his second win on the year.
Beck continued the trend of strong performances by Trojan starters, recording his second complete game for the 2014 campaign, tossing seven innings and striking out 10. For his three starts this season, Beck has posted double digit strikeouts in each appearance, while holding the conference lead in punch-outs with 40 for the year. Beck is averaging an impressive 14.40 strikeouts per game, which also leads the league.
Anderson missed tallying double figure hits for the fourth straight game by one in the seven-inning series finale as the Trojans combined for 33 hits and an astounding .371 average for the series. Senior left fielder Nathan Galliford provided the spark for the weekend, banging out a home run in each game of the series. After putting a pitch over the left-field wall on Friday, Galliford knocked two balls over the center-field fence on Saturday, including the eventual game-winner to put AU up 5-4 in the second game of the day.
Currently, Galliford leads the SAC in round-trippers with seven as five players are tied for second-place in the category with four.
After extending his hitting streak to 15 games with three hits in the first game of the day, sophomore first baseman Steven Cooper came up empty in the hits column in game two, snapping the team’s longest hitting streak. In the opening contest, the sophomore went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI. For the season, Cooper is hitting .333 and ranks second in the SAC in doubles with nine.
Cooper trails only to teammate Paul Como who has totaled 10 doubles for the year, as the senior outfielder added three doubles during the series and is currently riding a seven-game hitting streak. In the first game of the day, Como finished 3-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored.
Despite not recording a hit in the opening contest, senior Jonathan Zalud went 2-for-3 in the nightcap with a double and a run scored. For the year, Zalud is hitting .395 with a .553 slugging percentage.
Middle infielder Brett Cash tallied three hits on the afternoon, extending his hitting streak to seven games, while sophomore catcher LJ Newman posted a perfect 2-for-2 performance in the second game.
In the first game, both teams struggled offensively though the first three innings, combining for just three hits. Anderson broke the scoreless trend by plating three runs in the fourth, highlighted by a two-RBI single by Como. Sophomore Garrett Bernardo followed Como with a single up the middle, which plated Como to extend the AU lead.
Galliford homered in the fifth inning to put the game out of reach, despite two late runs by Coker in the eighth inning. The victory clinched Anderson’s second conference series win after grabbing two-of-three from Carson-Newman earlier this season.
AU grabbed three runs in the second inning of the nightcap, as all three runs were unearned due to a costly Coker error. Following the three-run inning, Coker answered to even the score at 3-3 with three runs in the top-half of the third inning.
After the Cobras took the lead at 4-3 in the top-half of the fifth, Galliford provided the game-clinching home run to would give Anderson the series sweep.
AU returns to action when it heads to Fluor Field, home of the Single-A affiliate Greenville Drive, to take on Southern Wesleyan. First pitch is set for 5 p.m.