Baseball: PC, Liberty, Winthrop in championship mix
LIBERTY WINS OPENER, A RUN TO THE TITLE: PC baseball could win the conference championship
PC Heads to Liberty for Decisive Big South Finale -- Series Setup:
• Who: Presbyterian (28-25, 14-7 Big South) at Liberty (30-20, 14-7 Big South)
• When: Thursday – 6 p.m. | Friday – 6 p.m. | Saturday – 2 p.m.
• Where: Liberty Baseball Stadium – Lynchburg, Va.
• Live Stats: Thursday | Friday | Saturday
• Social Media – @PresbyterianBSB (Twitter) | @BlueHoseSports (Twitter/Instagram)
Series History (since 2008)
• Overall - LU leads 19-2
• at LU - LU leads 9-0
• Recent - PC has won the last two
• Thu - LHP Brian Kehner (PC) vs. RHP Evan Mitchell (LU)
• Fri - RHP Tanner Chock (PC) vs. RHP Jack DeGroat (LU)
• Sat - LHP Hayden Deal (PC) vs. TBA (LU)
• PC and Liberty will square off in a decisive Big South series this weekend in Lynchburg. The Blue Hose claimed not only their first ever win over LU last season but also went on to take their first ever series win against the Flames, taking two of three in Clinton.
• The Blue Hose enter the final weekend of the regular season with a 14-7 Big South record, good for a tie for second place in the Big South standings with this weekend’s opponent, Liberty.
• PC leads the Big South in hits (482) and is third in batting average (.269). The Blue Hose are third in the league in ERA (4.45), fourth in opponent batting average (.262) and tied for fourth in strikeouts (377).
• In conference action, PC leads the league with a 2.88 ERA and is fourth in opponent batting average at .243.
• The Flames enter the weekend with a 30-20 overall record, having lost three of its last four, with a 14-7 Big South record.
• LU is batting .271 as a team with 44 home runs and 42 stolen bases. They are led by D.J. Artis with a .359 batting average and 21 stolen bases. Sam Taormina has a team-high 10 home runs and 53 RBIs.
• Liberty holds a Big South-best 4.16 ERA and a .257 opponent batting average this season. Evan Mitchell leads the way with a 6-1 record and a 2.76 ERA in 12 starts this season.
PC Still in Play for Big South Regular Season Title
• PC and Liberty each enter the final weekend of the regular season with a 14-7 Big South record, currently tied for the second. Winthrop currently sits as the conference leader at 15-6 on the year, one game up on both PC and LU.
• The Blue Hose and the Flames series are both still in play for the one of the top three seeds with each guaranteed to finish no lower than third in the standings.
• PC will earn a share of the Big South Regular Season title this weekend if:
- PC wins three games AND Winthrop loses one game
- PC wins two games AND Winthrop loses two games
* PC holds the tiebreaker with Winthrop by virtue of its sweep earlier this year and would earn the No. 1 seed in the Big South Tournament in the above scenarios
• PC would win the Big South Regular Season title outright this weekend if:
- PC wins three games AND Winthrop loses at least two games
- PC wins two games AND Winthrop loses three games
PC Reaching Milestones
• PC won its 28th game on Tuesday to establish a new Division I era single-season program record for wins. It eclipses the previous record of 27 wins set by the Blue Hose each of the last two seasons.
• The Blue Hose also reached its 14th Big South victory on Sunday, a program record since PC joined the league. The previous record was 12, set last season.
• Presbyterian has managed 14 road victories this season, the most in program’s Division I era. The 2013 team held the previous high, winning 13 road games. It took the 2013 team 33 games to reach the mark, whereas the 2017 has managed the 14 wins in just 25 games.
• PC has won five Big South series this season, the most ever in the program’s history. The previous best was four, which came last season and in 2012.
Auckland Named Big South Player of the Week
• Senior outfielder Brett Auckland was named Big South Player of the Week of the week on Monday for his performance against South Carolina and Charleston Southern.
• Auckland went 9-for-18 (.500) with two home runs, six runs and seven RBIs in four games last week.
• The lefty collected a hit and an RBI in all four games, while managing three multi-hit games and three multi-RBI games against the Bucs over the weekend.
• The native of Chapin, S.C. kicked off the weekend by going 3-for-5 with a homer, three runs and two RBIs in PC’s 11-10 win at CSU on Friday.
• He followed that up with a 3-for-4 effort with a homer, three runs and two RBIs in Sunday’s series finale, a 10-8 come-from-behind victory for the Blue Hose.
Casaceli Shining in May
• Glen Casaceli has led a thriving PC offense since the calendar turned to May, going 14-for-27 (.519) with eight runs and five RBIs in six games in the month.
• The senior has a hit in five of the six, all multi-hit games. Four of the five multi-hit games have been three-hit games, as he has seen his batting average surge to .335 on the season, up from .298 at the end of the April.
• The righty contiues to excel out of the leadoff spot, batting .382 in 22 games out of the top spot in the order with 20 runs, 10 RBIs and a .461 on-base percentage.
• Entering the weekend, he has recorded three-straight three-hit games, doing so in all three games of the team’s sweep of Charleston Southern.
Players Rank in Big South and Nationally
• Brian Kehner is second in the Big South in strikeout-to-walk ratio (6.44) and walks allowed per nine innings (1.02). He ranks 20th and 12th in the nation in two categories, respectively.
• Eric Miles is third in the Big South with a 2.86 ERA and ranks second in the league in wins with six.
• Hayden Deal has 71 strikeouts, fourth-most in the Big South, while Tanner Chock ranks ninth with 62.
• Tyler Weyenberg is tied second in the Big South in sac bunts with 11, while Cletis Avery is tied for fourth with nine on the season.
• Avery is seventh in the conference in stolen bases (17).
• Ryan Hedrick has nine saves, most in the Big South and 44th nationally.
Moss, Branch Blank Western Carolina
• PC right-handed hurlers Robert Moss and Russ Branch combined for a shutout at Western Carolina on Tuesday evening in a 6-0 PC victory.
• Moss, in his first career start, went a career-long 5.1 innings and held the Catamounts without a run. The senior allowed just two hits and one walk with one strikeout to earn the victory.
• Branch entered in relief in the sixth and worked the remainder of the contest to earn his second save of the year. The righty went 3.2 scoreless innings and allowed just two hits with a strikeout and no walks.
• It was PC’s third shutout of the season and the second in a road game. PC blanked Army, 9-0, at home on March 17 and Winthrop, 5-0, on the road on April 7, both coming in Friday games.