UNCG set to host Albany for weekend series
Albany (0-5) vs. UNCG (4-4)
UNCG Baseball Stadium • Greensboro, N.C.
March 4-6, 2011 • Game 9-11 • 4 p.m., 1 p.m., 1 p.m.
• UNCG returns home this weekend as the Spartans will host Albany for a three-game series. The series will start on Friday with a 4 p.m. contest before the teams meet again on Saturday at 1 p.m. The series will wrap up on Sunday with a 1 p.m. game at the UNCG Baseball Stadium.
• On Tuesday, UNCG made the short trip down I-40 to play Wake Forest in its first road game of the season. The Spartans took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the second, but the Demon Deacons rattled off 11 unanswered runs to win, 11-1. Bobby Martin went 1-2 with an RBI and a walk to lead UNCG, while Eric Brindle added a 1-3 performance with a run scored.
• After finishing fourth in the nation last season by being hit by a pitch 26 times, Chris Barker has picked where he left off this season. Through eight games this season, Barker has already been hit by a pitch on six occasions. He only ranks behind Alex Lee from Wofford in the conference in hit by pitches, after Lee has been plunked seven times in his first seven games.
• The Spartans and Great Danes have met 16 times in school history, with UNCG leading the all-time series 15-1. Last season, UNCG swept the three-game series between the two teams on the second weekend of the season. The Spartans took the first game on Friday, 8-4, before winning on Saturday afternoon, 11-5. UNCG cruised to the sweep in the Sunday game with a 13-1 victory.
• Albany comes into the game with an 0-5 record to start the season. The Great Danes fell to San Jose State in its season-opener last Wednesday and then dropped a four-game series on the road at Santa Clara.
• Colby Hyatt has been a steady presence for UNCG in the weekend rotation as he holds a 1-0 record with a miniscule 0.69 ERA over his first two starts. The senior has pitched a total of 13 innings and has allowed just seven hits and one earned run.
• Last weekend, UNCG won on Friday and Sunday to claim the three-game series over Cleveland State. On Friday, UNCG put up three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning for a 5-4 come-from-behind victory. The Spartans almost pulled off the same feat on Saturday as they put up three runs in the eighth again, but it wasn't enough as they fell, 4-3. In the rubber game on Sunday, UNCG exploded for five runs in the first inning as it cruised to a 10-3 win to claim the series.
• On Jan. 19, the UNCG baseball team reached a milestone in the 21st season of the program. The 10-9 walk-off win on Saturday 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.
• Despite losing players to graduation and to the draft, UNCG will return seven of its top 10 hitters from a season ago. Kris Richards, who led the Spartans last season with a .307 average, returns this season, but will move over from third base to shortstop this season. UNCG also returns junior Lloyd Enzor who led the team last season with 40 RBI from his first base position. Chris Barker, who had a .448 on-base percentage, also returns to the outfield this fall.
• The Spartans also return two of their three weekend starters this season in Warren Slack and Colby Hyatt. Hyatt finished in fifth in the Southern Conference last season with a 4.29 ERA to go along with his 7-4 record, while Slack was 10th in the SoCon with his 4.75 ERA. Slack was also ninth in the league last year with 75 strikeouts.
• UNCG will welcome 18 newcomers to the team this season as it looks to plug some holes left by exiting players. An area that will receive the most help will be the pitching staff. After losing Hassebrock to the draft and Alex Shelton to graduation, UNCG needed to bolster pitching staff that featured just nine arms last season. The Spartans have brought in nine new arms this season, led by Jarett Miller who will join the weekend rotation. Four of those nine new pitchers are left handed-pitchers, which was necessary after UNCG lost its only left-handed pitcher from a season ago in Shelton.
• UNCG has made admission free for all home games this season at the UNCG Baseball Stadium. Fans are encouraged to come out and support the Spartans all season long on campus.