ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The UNC Asheville baseball team hits the road this weekend as the Bulldogs travel to 30th-ranked and Big South-leader Liberty for a three-game series starting Friday at 7 p.m. Saturday’s game will start at 3 p.m., followed by Sunday’s contest at 1 p.m.
All three games will be seen on the Big South Digital Network for free and can be accessed under the multimedia tag at uncabulldogs.com.
Asheville (12-29, 4-13) faces a stern test in the Flames (32-10, 16-1 BSC). Liberty won last year’s Big South Conference Tournament championship and advanced to the South Carolina Regional Championship game.
“Liberty has a great team this season,” commented Bulldog coach Tom Smith. “They’re good in every area of the game. Liberty has beaten some really good teams in non-conference play and will be a tough out in the NCAA Tournament. They could go a long way in the post-season.
“We’re going to have to be at our best to try and beat them this weekend,” added Smith. “This is a team you can’t give extra outs, or they will hurt you. Hopefully, we can put it together this weekend and play well.”
The Bulldogs split a pair of home games earlier in the week. They used 15 hits with four coming from shortstop Derek Smith to down USC Upstate on Monday, 9-4. On Tuesday, a late Asheville rally fell short against Furman as the Paladins edged the Dogs, 6-4.
Tom Smith’s club is scheduled to start senior right-hander Dean Roland (2-3, 6.07 ERA) on Friday, freshman right-hander Joe Zayatz (1-6, 4.58 ERA) on Saturday and Corey Randall (2-4, 3.19 ERA) on Sunday.
Freshman outfielder Tanner Bush leads the Bulldogs in hitting with a .357 average. Senior outfielder Phillip Treadway has a .289 average. Sophomore catcher Pete Guys leads the team in home runs and RBIs (19).
Asheville has led in the seventh inning or beyond in eight of its 13 Big South Conference losses.
The Bulldogs are 5-4 in one-run games but 1-5 in two-run affairs.
Asheville won its last league series vs. Liberty when the two teams square off at Greenwood Field. The Bulldogs took two-of-three vs. the Flames in 2012 with the team’s not playing last season. Asheville is looking for its first winning series in Lynchburg since winning the series there in 2003.
Freshman outfielder Tanner Bush has reached base in 13 straight games. He has a hit in 11 of those contests with multiple hits in nine games.
Robert McIntosh has 201 career hits. He needs four more to surpass Jason Ronai on the school’s all-time hit list (204) and move into 10th place.
Asheville has been limited to seven hits or less in its last six Big South Conference games.
Tanner Bush is tied for the Big South lead in triples with three.
The Bulldogs are second in the league in doubles with 73. Second baseman Kyle Towles is tied for sixth with 12.
Scott Robinson is sixth in the Big South in saves with five.
Nick Schavone is fifth in the league in appearances with 22.
Sophomore right-hander Corey Randall is ninth in the league in opponents’ batting average with a .221 mark. In his last three starts, he has an ERA of 2.35 with a 2-1 record and wins over Coastal Carolina and USC Upstate.