ANDERSON, S.C. – Looking to break away from its recent losing skid, Anderson University baseball returns to its South Atlantic Conference schedule this weekend as it hits the road to Brevard for a three-game series, beginning on Friday with a single game beginning at 3 p.m., followed by a doubleheader on Saturday at noon.
After dropping the final game of a three-game set with conference rival Tusculum last Saturday, AU suffered back-to-back setbacks to nonconference foes North Greenville and USC Aiken this week. With the losses, Anderson stumbled to 11-22 for the year, but holds an 8-10 mark in SAC play which ties the Trojans with Newberry for sixth place in the league standings, with AU and the Wolves a game behind Mars Hill for fifth, and two games behind Tusculum for fourth.
The middle of the Trojan lineup, consisting of sophomore first baseman Steven Cooper and senior outfielder Nathan Galliford have provided the offensive spark throughout the year. Cooper and Galliford are currently tied for fourth in the SAC in RBI with 32 apiece, while Cooper leads the conference in hits with 46. The sophomore is currently on a five-game hitting streak and has blasted five home runs for the month of March.
Hitting home runs all season long, Galliford is second in the conference with nine round-trippers this season, as he trails Lincoln Memorial’s Josh Coker, who leads the country with 11. The senior ranks third in the SAC in runs scored with 29, while also ranking sixth in total bases.
On the mound, the AU pitching staff ranks third in the league in strikeouts as one of four teams with over 200 strikeouts for the season (209). Junior right-hander Landon Beck ranks second in the league in strikeouts with 57, but continues to pace the SAC in strikeouts per game at 12.31. Mid-week starter David Thompson ranks sixth in the SAC in strikeouts per game with an average of 8.92.
Brevard has fallen on tough times, entering the weekend on a five-game losing streak and 12-19 overall. In the league, the Tornados hold a 6-14 record, as BC was swept in its last SAC series against defending conference tournament champion, Lincoln Memorial. With the setbacks, the Tornados ranks 10th in the conference, a game ahead of Lenoir-Rhyne, which sits in 11th.
Freshman outfielder Brock Helton has made the most of his first collegiate season, making 29 starts with a .330 average with two home runs and 14 RBI. In 109 at-bats this season, Helton has struck out just 13 times and carries a .440 slugging percentage. With 32 stolen bases for the season, redshirt senior Eric Renegar ranks fourth in the SAC in stolen bases with 13 for the year.
Defensively, right-hander Zach Joyce was named the SAC Pitcher of the Week on Feb. 18 when he tossed a complete game shutout against Catawba, allowing just one hit and tallying six strikeouts. For the season, Joyce carries a 3.30 ERA in 43.2 innings, while striking out 33 hitters.
After Anderson swept the first ever conference series in 2011, Brevard answered with its own sweep of the Trojans in 2012 in Brevard. Last season, the Tornados took two-of-three from AU, capped off by a 10-6 win in the series finale.