GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG baseball team will square off against N.C. A&T for the 52nd time in program history on Tuesday, March 19 when the two schools collide at the First National Bank Field at 5 p.m.
It will mark the 11th all-time meeting at the neutral site, which serves as the home of the Greensboro Grasshoppers, the Class-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. UNCG is 8-2 when meeting the Aggies at First National Bank Field and 41-10 in the all-time series with its Greensboro rival.
The Spartans (13-5) are looking to rebound from an 8-4 setback that came at the hands of Jacksonville University on Sunday, March 17th, when they send Maddux Holshouser (0-0, 3.86 ERA) to the mound. Meanwhile, N.C. A&T is 10-9 on the season after dropping four of its last five contests.
SPARTANS AND AGGIES BATTLE AT FIRST NATIONAL BANK FIELD
-The Spartans are 48-11 all-time against schools that make up the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), owning a 41-10 mark against crosstown rival N.C. A&T. Two of those losses against the Aggies came by virtue of vacated wins, under former UNCG head coach Mike Gaski. UNCG has also faced off against Bethune-Cookman (1-0), Delaware State (3-0), Maryland-Eastern Shore (2-0), N.C. Central (1-0) and Norfolk State (0-1), all current members of the MEAC.
-UNCG head coach Link Jarrett owns a 10-2 mark all-time against programs in the MEAC with seven of the wins coming against N.C. A&T. Two of the remaining victories came against Maryland-Eastern Shore and one was versus N.C. Central. Jarrett won his first five meetings with N.C. A&T between March 26, 2013 and March 24, 2015, before suffering a 9-8 setback in 10 innings on March 22, 2016, the only game in all-time series that has ever gone to extra innings.
-UNCG freshman Jacquez Koonce has moved on up in the lineup and has hit from the No. 2 spot in his last three games. In that span, Koonce has come through with three hits, two runs, two walks and swiped three bases for the Spartans. He had a .357 on-base percentage in three games against Jacksonville over the weekend and was the only Spartan with multiple stolen bases against the Dolphins.
-The two teams have met 10 times at Newbridge Bank Park since the 2006 campaign with the Spartans owning an 8-2 mark at the neutral venue. UNCG has outscored the Aggies by a combined score of 87-49 at Newbridge Bank Park, eclipsing the double-digit mark on five occasions.
-Coppin State and North Carolina A&T were selected as the preseason favorites to win the Northern and Southern Divisions, respectively. Coppin State won the Northern Division last season for the first time since 1996 and is expected to repeat the feat in 2019, picking up 13 first-place votes. Norfolk State, with four first-place votes, was picked to finish second, and Delaware State (one first-place vote) and Maryland Eastern Shore round out the Northern Division.
North Carolina A&T is fresh off its first MEAC title in baseball since 2005 and the Aggies are the favorite to win the Southern Division, picking up 15 first-place votes. Bethune-Cookman (two first-place votes), entering its first season under head coach Jonathan Hernandez, was picked to finish second – followed by Florida A&M (one first-place vote), North Carolina Central and Savannah State.
The Aggies had three selections to the Preseason All-MEAC first team including Michael Johnson (pitcher), Perry “AJ” Hunt (infielder) and Dawnoven Smith (outfielder).
ON DECK FOR THE SPARTANS
UNCG takes to the road this weekend for its first Southern Conference series of the season at Mercer. The series opens at 6 p.m. on March 22 and includes games on March 23 (2 p.m.) and March 24 (1 p.m.).