Baseball Wraps up Regular Season with Three-Game set at Samford
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Spartan baseball hits the road for the final regular season series of the season this weekend. UNCG heads to Birmingham, Ala. for a three-game series with the Samford Bulldogs, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. UNCG enters this series 30-19 and currently in second place in the Southern Conference standings with a 13-8 league mark. Samford enters at 29-23 and are currently sixth in the league with a 9-12 SoCon record.
Thursday and Friday's game times are set for a 6 p.m. first pitch, with the finale on Saturday set to begin at 2 p.m. Live stats and a video stream will be available for all three contests. Links for both services are on the UNCG baseball schedule page. This weekend's live stream will be on the SoCon Digital Network.
Probable Pitching Matchups
Game 1 - UNCG | Bryce Hensley. Jr. - LHP (6-6, 4.52 ERA, 69.2 IP, 66 Ks) vs. Samford | Cody Shelton, So. - RHP (5-2, 2.18 ERA, 57.2 IP, 54 Ks)
Game 2 - UNCG | Matt Frisbee, So. - RHP (7-2, 4.17 ERA, 77.2 IP, 61 Ks) vs. Samford | Mikhail Cazenave, Sr. - RHP (3-7, 5.09 ERA, 74.1 IP, 67 Ks)
Game 3 - UNCG | Dan Loats, Jr. - RHP (6-2, 5.43 ERA, 63.0 IP, 64 Ks) vs. Samford | Stephen Jones, So. - RHP (3-3, 5.62 ERA, 49.2 IP, 40 Ks)
A Little History -- Samford
The Spartans and Bulldogs have played 25 times in school history. Samford owns a 17-8 advantage in that time. Last year in Greensboro, the teams played one game Friday night, with UNCG earning a 10-2 victory, before falling in both games of a doubleheader on Saturday. The last trip to Birmingham resulted in a 2-1 series loss for the Spartans. UNCG last took a series from Samford in 2013, in Birmingham.
Scouting the Spartans
UNCG comes into the series taking two of three games from The Citadel at home last weekend. The Spartans currently sit second in the Southern Conference standings. By winning the series this weekend, UNCG would cement its spot as either the No. 2 or No. 3 seed in the SoCon Tournament next weekend. All SoCon teams, with the exception of Furman are playing conference series in the final weekend of the regular season. Mercer has won the regular season for the third-consecutive year, but seeds 2-9 remain in motion and will likely change after this weekend's competitions.
Ben Spitznagel - Spitznagel has made 43 starts this season, hitting at the lead off, or number two spot in the order. He hits at a .353 average and owns a .467 on-base percentage. He has stolen 12 bases and has gone for extra bases 12 times. He is second on the team with 43 runs scored. Spitznagel ended UNCG's triples drought, leading off the series finale with his fourth three-bagger of the season. It was the first triple in 14 games for the nation's top triples-hitting team.
Caleb Webster - The freshman standout is second in the country with a .411 batting average in 40 games this season. The freshman leads the team with 13 doubles. His 37 RBI is third-best on the team and scored 34 runs. He has hit in the second, fifth and sixth spots in the order. He is currently on an eight-game hit streak.
Andrew Moritz - Moritz has started 48 games in center field this season. The sophomore has a .397 career batting average which ranks as the best batting average in school history. Moritz is currently 12th in the country with six triples this season. The sophomore has scored a team-high 52 runs this season and has stolen a team-best 14 bases.
Cesar Trejo - Trejo leads the team with eight home runs this season and has driven in 47 runs. A D1baseball.com Freshman All-American and Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American in 2016, Trejo hits at a .301 average this season in 40 games. The sophomore has a .569 slugging percentage having hit ten doubles and a pair of triples. Trejo has hit as the cleanup hitter or fifth spot of the batting order this season.
Michael Goss - Goss hits at a .333 average this season and has driven in 40 runs. In the victory over VMI on Sunday, Goss went 3-for-5 with a three-run home run, four RBI and a run scored. He saw his 15-game hit streak snapped on Friday night at Ohio State, but has recorded a hit in 33 of 40 games this season. Goss's total of six home runs this season is second-most on the team and he owns a team-best .547 slugging percentage.
Tripp Shelton - Shelton provides sneaky pop from the shortstop position. Shelton has hit five home runs, all within the 16 games. Shelton has hit three home runs in each of his first two seasons. The junior has made 120 career starts at shortstop and has helped turn 20 double plays.
Bryce Hensley - Will be making his 14th start of the season, seventh to open a series. He racked up a season-high 13 strikeouts in a 6-1 victory over Princeton back in March. Hensley has earned six quality starts and has struck out at least two hitters in every appearance. When Hensley goes 6.0 innings, UNCG is 11-1.
Matt Frisbee - Frisbee has started every game in his UNCG career, making 13 starts this season. The sophomore has logged a team-high 77.2 innings, and has thrown in 146.1 innings since arriving in Greensboro. UNCG has gone 19-9 in Frisbee's starts and he has recorded 112 strikeouts for his career.
Dan Loats - Loats has worked himself into the weekend rotation and will be starting his seventh series finale of the season. Earlier this season, Loats worked as the midweek starter and made relief appearances in two games. Loats has gone at least 4.2 innings in his last nine appearances, with two quality starts mixed in. He struck out a career-best nine in 5.0 innings against Wofford.
Andrew Wantz - Wantz has made a team-high 20 appearances on the season. The right-hander has gone 5-4 with four saves in 55.1 innings of work. He has struck out 55 hitters this season and has 188 strikeouts in his career. Wantz works in any tough situation needed and has earned four saves this year.
Jack Maynard - Maynard was a late addition to the bullpen after serving as the Friday night starter for the first seven weeks. He was the only reliever used in last weekend's series with The Citadel. He went 3.0 innings Friday night, striking out seven hitters without allowing a run. He struck out three batters in 1.2 innings in the finale. He has fanned 71 hitters and currently leads the team in that category.
Brandon Stephens - Stephens has worked in 14 games, making one start this season. He logged a scoreless inning at Elon, striking out two batters in an inning of work. Against VMI, the freshman threw 2.0 innings in UNCG's 8-5 victory. Stephens induced a 5-4-3-2 triple play against the first batter he faced in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Scouting the Bulldogs
Samford dropped two of three games in Johnson City, Tenn. last weekend against the ETSU Buccaneers. The Bulldogs currently sit in sixth-place. Samford can jump up to the fifth seed in the SoCon tournament with a sweep of UNCG this weekend, and could fall as far as seventh. Earlier this week against Jacksonville State, Samford earned a 6-1 victory.
T.J. Dixon - Dixon has started all 52 games, hitting at a .329 average. He leads the team with 37 RBI and has scored a team-best 44 runs. His 21 stolen bases ranks second in the league. He was a preseason second team All-SoCon selection. Recorded hits in all three games against ETSU.
Taylor Garris - Garris leads the Bulldogs with a .356 average. The freshman has started 48 games, primarily as the shortstop. Garris has scored 31 runs and has driven in 29 runs. He has recorded a hit in eight of the last ten games.
Kevin Williams - Williams leads the Bulldogs with 11 home runs this season. He last hit a home run a month ago as they dropped the second game of the series to The Citadel. In the last game against ETSU, he finished 1-for-5 with a run scored. He also leads the Bulldogs with 11 doubles and has driven in 33 runs.
Ayrton Schafer - The freshman has connected for 10 home runs this season, second-best on the team. He has found his swing as of late, hitting three home runs in the last five games. Schafer has driven in 31 runs, hitting at a .292 average.
Austin Edens - After hitting 19 homers last season, Edens is in the top three of home runs, having hit nine this season. A former SoCon Freshman of the Year, He was a first team-selection as a sophomore and a second team NCBWA All-American. He was a preseason All-American and was a preseason All-SoCon selection. Edens hits at a .266 average, having made 52 starts this year.
Cody Shelton - The sophomore has taken over as the Friday night starter for the last five weekend's. Shelton has earned a 2.18 ERA, ranking fourth in the SoCon. Since taking over on Friday nights, Shelton has gone at least 6.0 innings in four of five starts. His last outing against ETSU, he earned a victory after throwing 8.1 innings, scattering three hits, and struck out four hitters.
Mikhail Cazenave - Cazenave will work in the weekend for the second-straight season against UNCG. Last season, Cazenave started the series finale. He earned a quality start, going 6.0 innings, scattering three hits, allowed a pair of runs and struck out five hitters on 79 pitches. This season Cazenave has started 13 games, tossing a complete game in a victory over Wofford. He has logged a team-best 74.1 innings.
Stephen Jones - Jones worked in the series opener between the two teams last season. He suffered the loss, going 4.0 innings, giving up three runs and striking out one hitter. This season, Jones has made 12 starts, earning a 5.62 ERA. Jones has one quality start this season and has gone 3-3 in his 14 appearances.
Wyatt Burns - Leads the SoCon with 12 saves this season, and has recorded a 4-1 record in 25 appearances. In 43.0 innings pitched, he has struck out 39 batters with eight walks. His 2.51 ERA is third-best on the team. Burns' 12 saves ranks 11th in the country, and best in the SoCon. The junior was a preseason second team All-SoCon selection and was named to the NCBWA preseason Stopper of the Year watchlist.
Jared Brasher - Brasher has appeared in 20 games this season, logging 27.2 innings. Brasher has proved to have swing and miss stuff, striking out 41 hitters. He has earned a 3-0 record. When earning the wins, Brasher threw 3.0 innings, allowing a total of five hits in those outings. Brasher earned a save in a victory over Alabama State.
Josh Rich - Rich has made 22 appearances, earning a 1-0 record. He has a 4.18 ERA in 23.2 innings and has struck out 29 batters. He earned a save in 2.0 innings of work in a victory over Western Carolina. His last SoCon appearance was 1.2 innings with two strikeouts in a loss to ETSU. Against Jacksonville State, Rich struck out the one batter he faced.