UNCG set to face No. 7 Furman in first round of SoCon Tournament
No. 2 UNCG (34-18, 22-8) vs. No. 7 Furman (23-31, 13-16)
Joseph P. Riley Park • Charleston, S.C.
May 25, 2011 • Game 53 • 9 a.m.
Video: SoCon.TV (subscription required)
• Winners of 15 of its last 16 games, UNCG will try to ride that momentum this week at the 2011 Southern Conference Tournament in Charleston, S.C. The Spartans, the No. 2 seed, will face seventh-seeded Furman in the first round at 9 a.m. on Wednesday.
• Earlier this week, UNCG head coach Mike Gaski was named the Southern Conference Coach of the Year by the leagues' head coaches, as well as the media. It was the second time Gaski has been named SoCon Coach of the Year after also earning the accolade in 1998. Warren Slack and Trevor Edwards were also named to the All-SoCon First-Team on Monday by the coaches as a starting pitcher and catcher, respectively. Brandon Browne earned All-Freshman Team honors by the coaches, as well, while Edwards also earned second-team accolades by the media.
• In addition to winning 15 of its final 16 regular-season games, UNCG has had one of its most successful seasons this year. The 22 league wins by UNCG tied the school record for the most SoCon wins in a season that was set back in 1998, which was the Spartans' first season in the conference. The 34 overall wins this season is also the most since 2003 and it is the first time UNCG has been to the conference tournament since 2008, as well.
• UNCG trails the all-time series against Furman, 26-25, dating back to 1993. Back in late March, UNCG traveled down to Greenville, N.C. and dropped the series to the Paladins, 2-1. The Spartans fell in game one on Friday evening, 7-4, before being washed out on Saturday. In the first game of the doubleheader on Sunday, UNCG fell 6-5 in 12 innings before avoiding the sweep with an 11-4 win in game two. In fact, Furman is the only team in this year's SoCon Tournament that UNCG lost a series to this season. The last time the two sides met in the SoCon Tournament was in 2006 with UNCG coming away with the 5-4 victory.
• Furman comes into the game with a 23-31 record overall and a 13-16 mark in the SoCon to end the regular season in seventh place. The Terriers are currently in a tie with Western Carolina for the eighth and final spot in the Southern Conference Tournament. Last weekend, Wofford dropped a series on the road to Samford, 2-1, but took two of three from Georgia Southern on the road the previous week.
• UNCG has had a lot of success this season playing "small ball". The Spartans lead the nation with 88 sacrifice bunts this year. That is 34 more than any other team in the Southern Conference and five more than anyone else in the nation. UNCG has also done it on the base paths as they are 47-56 (83.9%) on stolen base attempts and field the ball at a league-best .975 clip, which also ranks 25th nationally.
• Last weekend, UNCG traveled to Wofford for the final three-game set of the regular season. The Spartans took game one on Friday night, 5-0, behind a combined 14 strikeouts from Warren Slack and Jarett Miller. UNCG took game one of the doubleheader on Saturday, 5-0, before making it a weekend sweep with a 15-0 in game two. It was the first time since 1994 that a Southern Conference team has shut out another conference opponent in a weekend series when Georgia Southern did it to Furman.
• The Spartans have received a boost from the back of their rotation in Colby Hyatt. Hyatt currently has a staff-best 3.38 ERA and is 8-2 this season. Hyatt has also pitched a team-best 88 innings this season, which ranks second in the SoCon. Also, he has only walked 13 batters all year, which is tied for second in the conference.
• Teammates Trevor Edwards and Chris Barker have been in the line of fire this season as both are in the top-10 in the SoCon in hit by pitches. Edwards currently leads the conference after being hit 17 times already, while Barker has been hit on 13 different occasions. Last season, Barker finished fourth in the nation after being hit by a pitch 26 times.
• UNCG's sweep of Western Carolina on March 11-13 was the first weekend sweep for the Spartans in Southern Conference play since May of 2008 when UNCG swept College of Charleston. It was also the first time UNCG had swept Western Carolina in a series since 2004 when the Spartans completed the feat on the road. The Spartans have also swept Georgia Southern, The Citadel and Wofford since that time.
• On Jan. 19, the UNCG baseball team reached a milestone in the 21st season of the program. The 10-9 walk-off win over Delaware gave head coach Mike Gaski his 600th career win. The win was also the 600th in program history as Gaski has been the lone skipper for the Spartans over the past 21 seasons.
• Following the 2010 season, junior Blake Hassebrock was drafted in the 8th round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Oakland Athletics. It marked the second-straight season that UNCG has had a player drafted in the 8th round by the Athletics as Rob Gilliam was selected in that slot in 2009. Hassebrock signed with the Athletics a few weeks after being drafted and ended his season with the Vancouver Canadians. UNCG has now had at least one pitcher drafted in 12 of the past 14 seasons.
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