ANDERSON, S.C. – Snapping a brief losing skid with an 8-7 win over South Atlantic Conference rival Brevard on Sunday, Anderson University baseball returns to the Upstate and welcomes archrival Erskine to Anderson Memorial Stadium for a midweek matchup on Tuesday. First pitch against the Flying Fleet is slated for 6 p.m.
AU split its rain-shortened series at Brevard on Sunday, as the Trojans fell 7-6 in the opening game, while bouncing back to take an 8-7 decision in the final contest of the weekend. Despite a 12-23 overall record, Anderson is on the cusp of the final slot for the 2014 Food Lion SAC Tournament, sitting in seventh place in the league standings, as the top six make the tournament. The Black and Gold hold a 9-11 conference mark and are currently a win behind sixth-place Newberry.
As a team, the Trojans are hitting .290 for the season with four everyday starters hitting above .300 for the year. Leading the way is sophomore first baseman Steven Cooper with a .373 average with 35 driven in (fourth in SAC) and 31 runs scored (third in SAC). Cooper joins senior outfielder Paul Como with 13 doubles on the season (second) and ranks fourth in the conference in slugging percentage (.619).
Joining Cooper in the top-five of the league in RBI is senior Nathan Galliford with 34. With a home run against the Tornados last weekend, Galliford became the second player in the SAC to record double figure home runs, as he continues to chase Lincoln Memorial’s Josh Coker (11) for the conference lead. Galliford is seventh in the SAC with a .588 slugging percentage while boasting a .286 batting average.
Junior middle infielder Brett Cash enters Tuesday with an eight-game hitting streak with six of those games being multi-hit contests. In the span, Cash is hitting .533 (16-for-30) with a .633 slugging percentage highlighted by three doubles, five RBI and five runs scored.
On the mound, junior-hander Landon Beck recorded his fourth complete game of the campaign against Brevard on Sunday, tossing seven complete innings with four strikeouts and just one walk. With the four strikeouts, Beck is in a three-way tie for the league lead in punch outs with 61 for the year. Beck joins Catawba’s Craig Brooks and Mars Hill’s Dale Innes as the only hurlers in the SAC with more than 60 strikeouts for the year. Despite being tied for the SAC lead in strikeouts, Beck holds the highest strikeout per game average of the trio at 11.28.
The Flying Fleet
With a doubleheader with conference rival Pfeiffer scheduled for Monday, Erskine is currently 20-7 overall and 7-2 in Conference Carolinas. The Fleet is an impressive 13-1 at the friendly confides of Grier Field, as they sit two wins behind league leader Mount Olive.
Redshirt junior Zach Smith leads the Erskine attack, as he ranks second in Conference Carolinas with 32 RBI and fourth in home runs with six. Smith’s .624 slugging percentage is third in the conference, as he leads the league with five sacrifice flies. The infielder has gotten a hit in eight of his last nine appearances, headlined by a three-hit performance in an 8-6 setback to Lander on March 19.
The EC offense continues to impress as the team has accumulated a .341 average and has outscored its opponents 211-82. The Fleet has tallied 28 home runs, while slugging .526 for the year.
Junior right-hander Austin Gambrell leads all of the league’s starters with five victories and a 2.04 ERA. In his last outing, Gambrell tossed seven innings and gave up just one hit against conference-leader Mount Olive, as the Fleet squeaked out a 2-1 win in the series opener with the Trojans. As a staff, Erskine carries a 2.86 ERA as opponents are hitting just .239 against the Flying Fleet.
Erskine has taken both games from Anderson this season, kicking off the series on Feb. 4 with a 6-0 shutout at Grier Field. The Trojans returned to Due West on Feb. 25, as the Fleet continued their winning streak over AU with a 9-3 triumph. With a half-point on the line in the Beville Cup standings, Anderson looks to snap its losing skid against its archrivals, not having beat Erskine since April 3, 2013.