ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The UNC Asheville baseball team will finish up the 2013 season this weekend with a three-game Big South Conference series against Winthrop with two games at Greenwood Field and Saturday’s finale at McCormick Field.
The games at Greenwood Field will be played on Thursday and Friday with both games starting at 3 p.m. Saturday’s contest has been moved to McCormick Field with a new time at Noon. Saturday’s game is Senior Day as the Bulldogs’ four seniors – Billy Creighton, Ian Graham, Dillon Tabar and Todd Joyner – will be honored prior to the game.
Asheville (15-34, 3-17 BSC) looks to end the season on a positive note and end a five-game losing streak. The Bulldogs have battled through a tough year and continue to play hard every game. This past weekend, Asheville traveled to defending Big South Conference champion and 30th-ranked Coastal Carolina. The Bulldogs lost 7-1, 3-2 in 11 innings and 3-0. Asheville out-hit the Chanticleers in every game of the series but just couldn’t get the hits at the right time.
“We played Coastal Carolina tough and fought hard, but we’re disappointed that we didn’t get any wins,” commented Bulldog coach Tom Smith. “It’s been a tough year but I’m impressed with how this team has continued to compete every inning of every game.
“We want to end the season on a good note and send our seniors out on a winning note,” added Smith. “Winthrop is playing well right now and just beat Wake Forest earlier in the week. It should be a great series.”
The Eagles are 20-32 on the season and 7-14 in the Big South Conference. This is the first time the teams have played since the 2011 campaign when Winthrop took two-of-three from the Bulldogs in Rock Hill.
Asheville will start right-hander Corey Randall (3-4, 4.39 ERA) on Thursday, right-hander Dean Roland (2-7, 4.34 ERA) on Friday and senior right-hander Dillon Tabar (2-4, 4.54 ERA) on Saturday.
Senior outfielder Todd Joyner continues to lead the Bulldogs in hitting with a .326 average. Junior shortstop Tommy Houmard is next with a .322 mark. He tops the club in RBIs with 31. Senior Ian Graham has a .304 mark with a team-leading four home runs.
UNC Asheville is 6-8 in one-run games this year but just 1-6 in one-run games inside the Big South Conference.
Todd Joyner also leads the Bulldogs in hitting in Big South Conference games with a .367 average.
Asheville owns some impressive non-conference wins. The Bulldogs went 2-0 against Big East squads Georgetown and Pittsburgh. They also knocked off Charlotte and own a 15-0 victory over Southern Conference regular-season champion Western Carolina on April 2.
The Bulldogs are 1-1 at McCormick Field this year.
The Bulldogs last league win was a thriller as Asheville defeated Gardner-Webb 7-6 on April 26 in 13 innings. The Dogs were behind 3-0 and being no-hit for five innings before rallying to tie the game in the ninth inning. Asheville scored the winning run on an error and got standout relief pitching from Billy Creighton. He pitched 5.2 innings of scoreless relief and struck out seven Gardner-Webb hitters.
Todd Joyner has reached base in 22 straight games. Tommy Houmard has a nine-game hitting streak entering this weekend’s action.
Dean Roland pitched very impressive in his last outing against Coastal Carolina on Saturday. He pitched nine innings against the Chanticleers and did not give up an earned run. Roland gave us just three hits, two unearned runs and struck out a season-high nine hitters. The Bulldogs fell 3-2 in 11 innings, and Roland received a no-decision.
Dean Roland has allowed two or less earned runs in four of his last five starts.
Asheville pitching has allowed just four home runs in the last 12 games and 111 innings pitched.