ANDERSON, S.C. – Stringing together five straight victories, Anderson University baseball looks to continue its winning ways this weekend when it jumps back into South Atlantic Conference action with a road series at Wingate, beginning on Friday with a doubleheader scheduled for Saturday.
After sweeping Coker last weekend, followed by a midweek win over in-state rival Southern Wesleyan at Fluor Field on Wednesday night, AU is on its longest winning streak since the 2009 season when it tallied six straight victories. With the winning streak, Anderson is 8-13 on the season, but enters the weekend as one of four teams in the league with three losses at the top of the conference standings.
With his eight strikeouts on Wednesday night against SWU, right-hander David Thompson moved into fifth-place in the SAC in punch-outs with 29 for the season. Thompson currently ranks third in the conference in strikeouts per game, averaging 10.30, as he is just one of three pitchers in the SAC with an average above 10. Teammate Landon Beck continues to lead both categories with 40 strikeouts and a 14.40 strikeouts per game average.
Offensively, the Trojans continue to swing the bat well, banging out 13 hit against the Warriors on Wednesday. Anderson has recorded double figure hits in four of its last five contests with a nine-hit total in the seven inning game against Coker last Saturday. AU ranks first in the league with doubles with 43 and second in total hits with 201 for the season. Despite playing their home games in one of the largest ballparks in the conference, the Trojans are second in home runs with 12. Senior Nathan Galliford continues to pace the SAC with seven home runs for the year.
Wingate enters the weekend conference series as one of the four teams with three setbacks in league play, holding an 8-3 SAC record with a 13-3 overall record. Prior to the start of the 2014 season, Wingate was projected to finish tied with Tusculum for second-place in the annual Preseason Coaches’ Poll, earning 78 points. Despite earning the second seed in last season’ SAC Tournament, the Bulldogs were knocked out after two games, ending their 2013 campaign with a 29-21 record.
Most recently, Wingate is coming off a three-game sweep on conference rival Tusculum last weekend, headlined by two one-run victories on Saturday. The Bulldogs are a perfect 5-0 in nonconference matchups, highlighted by a 13-4 win over Peach Belt Conference member Francis Marion prior to the series sweep over the Pioneers. With the win over the Patriots and claiming the final game over Brevard on Feb. 22, the Bulldogs are on a five-game winning streak.
Wingate’s offense is led by Shane Billings, who is currently the only player in the conference hitting above .400 for the year, entering Friday’s game with a .426 average. Billings has posted a hit in all but two contests this season and has nabbed eight multi-hit games. In the starting rotation, the Bulldogs have two players in the top-four in wins as Olen Little is second with four wins, while Ben Currie, who claimed SAC Pitcher of the Week honors on Feb. 25, holds three wins. Reliever Stephen Vaughan joined Currie being named Pitcher of the Week on Tuesday.
Since 2011, the Trojans have been unable to take a series against Wingate as conference opponents, as Anderson has posted just one win against the Bulldogs.