ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The UNC Asheville baseball team begins a three-game Big South Conference series at Gardner-Webb Friday night starting at 6 p.m. Friday’s game will be broadcast on ESPN3.
The rest of the series will take place on Saturday and Sunday starting at 2 p.m.
Asheville (14-29, 2-13 BSC) shook off a frustrating three-game losing streak with an 8-7 victory over Wofford on Wednesday afternoon at Greenwood Field. The Bulldogs built an 8-3 lead only to see the Terriers score four times in the top of the ninth to cut the lead to 8-7. With runners on second and third, reliever Scott Robinson wiggled out of the jam by getting the final two outs of the contest.
Last weekend, Asheville lost three close Big South Conference contests to league foe High Point at Greenwood Field. The Dogs either led or were tied in the eighth inning of each game with the Panthers until falling in the final innings.
“I’m proud of our guys as we’re playing hard every game, despite some really tough losses,” stated Asheville coach Tom Smith. “We just need to keep battling and playing hard every game and hopefully a few of those one-run losses will start becoming one-run wins.
“Gardner-Webb has a good ballclub,” added Smith. “They just beat South Carolina a few nights ago and can really hit the ball. We’re going to have to play good baseball this weekend to have a chance at getting some wins.”
The Bulldog coach looks forward to playing on ESPN3 on Friday.
“I know our guys are looking really forward to playing on ESPN Friday night,” said Smith. “There should be a great atmosphere at Gardner-Webb on Friday.”
Asheville plans to throw freshman right-hander Corey Randall (3-3, 4.36 ERA) Friday night, junior right-hander Dean Roland (2-6, 4.57 ERA) on Saturday and senior right-hander Dillon Tabar (2-3, 4.93 ERA) on Sunday.
Senior catcher Ian Graham leads the Bulldogs in hitting with a .333 average, followed by shortstop Tommy Houmard with a .331 mark. Houmard now leads the RBIs with 30 and has three triples on the year.
Shortstop Tommy Houmard has reached base in 25 straight games.
Gardner-Webb has won four of the last six meetings between the teams. The Runnin’ Bulldogs are 7-2 vs. Asheville in league games at Gardner-Webb.
Todd Joyner leads Asheville in hitting in BSC games with a .379 average.
Five of the Bulldogs seven one-run losses have come in Big South Conference play. Asheville Four of Asheville’s last five league losses have come by just one run.
The Bulldogs own impressive non-conference wins over Big East foes Georgetown and Pittsburgh plus Southern Conference leader Western Carolina (15-0 on April 3) and Atlantic 10 foe Charlotte.
In Asheville’s last 12 games, the contests have been decided by no more than three runs. Five of the Bulldogs last six games have been by one run.
Ian Graham was named National Hitter of the Week earlier this month. He hit .524 (11-of-21) the week of April 1 through April 7 with nines RBI and five runs scored. The catcher recorded two homers and two doubles, with three walks and one sacrifice fly. He posted a slugging percentage of .907, and an on-base percentage of .577 from the leadoff spot. Against mountain-rival Western Carolina on April 3, Graham tied a career-high five RBIs against the Catamounts.
Todd Joyner enters this weekend’s action with an 11-game hitting streak. He has reached base in 16 straight games.
Kyle Towles has reached base in 20 straight games. Earlier this year, he reached base in 21 straight contests. Towles has been on base in 41 of the 43 games he’s played in this season.
Asheville is fifth in the Big South in batting this year with a .281 average.