ANDERSON, S.C. – After wrapping up the regular season with seven victories in its last 11 games, including series wins over two consecutive conference opponents, the Anderson University baseball team is set for its second straight appearance and fourth appearance in six seasons at the Pilot/Flying J South Atlantic Conference Baseball Championship.
The five-day tournament will be played at Smokies Stadium in Kodak, Tenn. and will get underway on Thursday. Thursday's games will be single elimination, while the double-elimination portion of the championship will be played Friday – Monday.
WHO: No. 7 Anderson Trojans (19-29, 8-16 SAC) vs. No. 6 Carson-Newman (31-17, 12-11 SAC)
WHERE: Smokies Stadium; Kodak, Tenn.
WHEN: Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
Live Stats: AUTROJANS.COM
Anderson (19-29, 8-16 SAC), which is 4-6 in its three previous appearances in the SAC Tournament, made its deepest run in the tourney in program history just a year ago after entering least year's postseason as the eighth seed. The Trojans knocked off No. 5 seeded Lenoir-Rhyne, top-seeded Catawba and No. 7 seed Tusculum before being eliminated by eventual champion Lincoln Memorial just one win shy of the title contest. As the sixth seed in the 2015 postseason event, AU knocked off Brevard before falling to top-seeded Catawba and Wingate.
The Trojans averaged more than 10 hits and nearly eight runs per game over their final seven regular-season games, while the pitching staff has notched 76 strikeouts and issued just 22 walks over the last 11 contests – including a two-game stretch with no walks.
Redshirt junior Dillon Carpenter leads the Trojan offense with a .402 batting average and a .618 slugging percentage, while posting two five-game hitting streaks and a pair of four-game hitting streaks during the season. The Charlotte, N.C., native also notched 13 multiple-hit games and is riding a four-game hitting streak heading into the postseason.
Sophomore infielder Will Lindsey, who started 35 games this season, is fourth in the league with 36 walks, fifth in the conference with his .487 on-base percentage and stands 27th in the conference with a .319 batting average. He carries a team-best five-game hitting streak into the SAC Tournament and has reached base safely in his last five games. Classmate Trevor Weisner drew a starting assignment in 28 contests, including 26 games at third base. He owns a .289 batting average and has a four-game hitting streak on the line.
Redshirt sophomore Chandler Castleberry is tied for eighth in the league with six home runs and led the Trojans with 15 multiple-hit games. He notched a team-best 10-game hitting streak in late March and reached base in 20 consecutive games during one stretch.
Junior Christian Carpenter earned Honorable Mention All-Conference recognition after leading the nation with a school-record 13 saves. He owns a stellar 2.10 ERA and held opponents to a .224 batting average in 22 relief appearances over 30 innings of work on the mound. The Polkton, N.C., native's 13 saves rank third all-time in the conference record books for saves in a single season and he is just two saves shy of equaling the conference record.
Veteran hurler Will Gee leads the squad with four wins on the season and owns a 4.18 ERA in 11 starts on the year, while capturing wins in his last two appearances – over Coker and Mars Hill. The right-hander has averaged nearly six innings per outing and has gone less than six innings in just one contest. Gee leads the squad and is 12th in the SAC with 64 2/3 innings tossed and is 12th with a team-best 57 strikeouts on the season.
Freshman right-hander Lucas Smith posted a 3-1 record in 14 appearances (12 in relief) while recording a 2.19 ERA over more than 24 innings. He allowed just one run over his last 10 1/3 innings, while fanning nine batters and walking just three batters – none in his last two appearances. Fellow reliever Cameron Hall, a native of Spartanburg, S.C., has a 3.99 ERA in 20 appearances. The right-hander captured a save in AU's win over Mars Hill during the final regular-season series that helped the Trojans clinch a berth in the postseason. He struck out 14 batters over his last 10 1/3 innings and walked just four.
No. 1 Seed Newberry (38-12, 21-3 SAC)
The Wolves, who were ranked eighth nationally in the latest National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Division II poll, won their first-ever regular-season conference title after being tabbed to finish fifth in the SAC Preseason Coaches' Poll.
Newberry is the first 20-game winner in the SAC since Catawba went 23-6 in 2015, while its .875 winning percentage ranks fourth in league history behind Catawba in 1992 (21-0), Wingate in 1995 (20-1), and Tusculum in 2012 (.889).
The Series vs. the Wolves
Anderson and Newberry have squared off on 55 occasions, with the Wolves holding a 33-22 advantage in the all-time series. The Wolves swept the regular-season series in late March.
No. 2 Seed Lincoln Memorial (32-15, 18-6 SAC)
Lincoln Memorial, the reigning SAC Tournament Champion, earned the No. 2 seed after its quest for the program's first-ever regular-season title was spoiled after dropping two-of-three to Newberry last weekend. The Railsplitters were picked to finish second in the SAC Preseason Coaches' Poll.
The Series vs. the Railsplitters
The Trojans and Railsplitters have met 28 times since the 2009 season, with Lincoln Memorial holding a 17-11 advantage in the all-time series. As a fourth-seed in last year's tourney, LMU edged the No. 8 seeded Trojans, 6-4, to advance to the championship contest.
The two teams have combined to score 206 runs in their last 13 matchups.
No. 3 Seed Catawba (38-12, 17-7 SAC)
The Indians, who were who were ranked 18th in the latest National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Division II poll, were picked to win the league's regular-season title in the South Atlantic Preseason Coaches' Poll. Newberry snapped the Indians' string of sixth straight SAC Regular Season Championships this year.
The Series vs. the Indians
The Trojans and Indians have met 40 times since the 2001 season, with Catawba holding a 30-10 advantage in the all-time series. The Indians had won 16 consecutive matchups until AU claimed an 11-9 win in the 2016 series finale. The eighth-seeded Trojans upset the top-seeded Indians, 4-1, in last year's SAC Tournament.
No. 4 Tusculum (30-19, 17-7 SAC)
Tusculum and Catawba finished with identical league records, but the Pioneers slipped to the No. 4 seed after Catawba won the tiebreaker over Tusculum by virtue of its 2-1 record versus Lincoln Memorial. The Pioneers have reached the SAC Tournament for 20 consecutive years and are seeking their fifth SAC Tournament title and first since 2016 after being tabbed to finish seventh in the SAC Preseason Coaches' Poll.
The Series vs. the Pioneers
The Trojans and Pioneers have met 38 times since the 1998 season, with Tusculum leading the all-time series, 24-14. AU won the first nine meetings between the two programs from 1998-2009, but the Pioneers have won 22 of the last 26 matchups. The Trojans snapped an 11-game skid at the hands of the Pioneers by upsetting Tusculum, 7-6, in extra innings in last year's championship.
No. 5 Seed Wingate (30-16, 14-10 SAC)
After being selected to finish third in the SAC Preseason Coaches' Poll, the Bulldogs claimed the fifth seed by winning five of its last six conference games. Wingate has claimed four SAC titles.
The Series vs. the Bulldogs
The Trojans and Bulldogs did not meet this season, but have squared off on 24 occasions since the 2007 season, with Wingate holding a 16-8 advantage in the all-time series. The Bulldogs had won four straight in the series, but AU took two-of-three from Wingate last April at Memorial Stadium.
No. 6 Seed Carson-Newman (31-17, 12-11 SAC)
Carson-Newman was predicted to finish fourth in the league in the SAC Preseason Coaches' Poll and enters the postseason as possibly the hottest team in the league, as the Eagles have posted nine straight wins. C-N has won four SAC Championships (1992, 1993, 1997 and 2007) since the tournament began in 1991.
The Series vs. the Eagles
The Trojans and Eagles have met 39 times since the 2001 season, with Carson-Newman leading the all-time series, 30-9. Carson-Newman won the first two games at Memorial Stadium in late March, with the Trojans claiming a 3-2 win in the third matchup.
No. 8 Seed Coker (16-27-1, 7-17 SAC)
Coker, which was tabbed to finish 10th in the SAC Preseason Coaches' Poll, finished in a deadlock with Lenoir-Rhyne, but owned the tiebreaker over the Bears thanks to their 1-2 record versus Newberry, while Lenoir-Rhyne dropped all three regular-season decisions to Newberry.
The Series vs. the Cobras
Anderson and Coker have squared off on 66 occasions, with the Trojans holding a 38-28 advantage in the all-time series. AU has won seven of the last nine matchups, including two wins in Hartsville in mid-April that helped the Black and Gold secure its berth in the postseason tournament.
Thursday, April 25 (at Kodak, Tenn.)
#5 Wingate vs. #8 Coker, 4:30pm
#6 Carson-Newman vs. #7 Anderson, 7:30pm
Friday, April 26 (at Kodak, Tenn.)
#1 Newberry vs. lowest seed from GM 1 & 2, Noon
#2 Lincoln Memorial vs. highest seed from GM 1 & 2, 3:45pm
#3 Catawba vs. #4 Tusuclum, 7:30pm
Saturday, April 27 (at Kodak, Tenn.)
GM 3 loser vs. GM 4 loser, Noon
GM 3 winner vs. GM 5 loser, 3:45pm
GM 4 winner vs. GM 5 winner,7:30pm
Sunday, April 28 (at Kodak, Tenn.)
GM 7 winner vs. GM 8 winner, Noon
GM 6 winner vs. GM 8 loser, 3:45pm
GM 10 winner vs. GM 9 loser, 7:30pm
Monday, April 29 (at Kodak, Tenn.)
GM 9 winner vs. GM 11 winner, 1:00pm
if necessary, 4:00pm