ANDERSON, S.C. – Winners of five of its last six, Anderson University baseball returns to the diamond on Tuesday when it welcomes Peach Belt Conference opponent Lander to Anderson Memorial Stadium for a nonconference matchup. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.
After dropping the opening game of a three-game set to Lenoir-Rhyne on Friday, AU bounced back to claim the final games of the series with a 4-3 triumph followed by an 8-7 win in a doubleheader on Saturday. With the back-to-back one-run victories, the Trojans improved to 16-24 on the season, but hold a 11-12 mark in conference, which slots Anderson in fifth place in the SAC standings.
A key component to AU’s recent success has been the hitting of sophomore first baseman Steven Cooper, who in the span of Anderson’s last seven games, has hit .414 with three home runs and three doubles to go along with his 11 RBI and nine runs scored. For the season, the sophomore leads the league with 43 RBI and is the only player in the SAC with more than 100 total bases with 102.
Also earning conference recognition, senior Nathan Galliford is one two SAC players with double figure home runs of the year, as he is tied with Lincoln Memorial’s Josh Coker for the conference lead with 12. Galliford also ranks second in the league in walks (25) and fifth in total bases (84).
The Trojan middle infield of junior Brett Cash and sophomore Kyle Bailey pace the team in stolen bases as Bailey has eight swipes on the season, while Cash has posted six for the year. The duo has combined for 91 hits and 56 runs scored on the season.
Senior right fielder Paul Como, who has started every game, is second on the team in doubles with 14 and blasted his third home run of the season last weekend against Lenoir-Rhyne.
In the latest Collegiate Baseball Newspaper poll, Lander was ranked No. 2 nationally as it enters Tuesday contest with a 31-6 overall record and an 18-6 mark in the Peach Belt Conference. Most recently, the Bearcats claimed two-of-three from USC Aiken, capped off by an 18-4 rout over the Pacers on Sunday to claim the series win. Lander has won three of its last four games, beginning with a 27-8 victory over Winston-Salem State.
Currently, Lander carries six hitters with averages over .310 this season, as two-way player Patrick Grady leads the PBC with a .455 average with 16 doubles and eight home runs. For the season, Grady has driven in 31 runs, while crossing the plate a conference-high 60 runs scored. Grady has led a Bearcat attack that has outscored their opponents 370-158 this season, while hitting .328 as a team.
Defensively, sophomore right-hander Taylor Alvarez ranks second in the league in wins with seven, as he has completed 61.1 innings with a 4.26 ERA. Teammates Dylan Wolchik and Mason McCullough, both right-handers, rank ninth and 10th, respectively, in strikeouts with 54 and 51. As a staff, Lander is holding batters to a .249 batting average.
Last season, the Trojans stunned nationally-ranked Lander with a 4-1 win at Greenville’s Fluor Field, home of Minor League Baseball’s Greenville Drive. Anderson starter Spencer Earle tossed six complete innings and allowed just one run against one of the nation’s top offenses. Anderson’s win snapped a 10-game losing streak against the Bearcats, getting its first win in the in-state rivalry since 2007.