UNCG (19-16, 9-6) at Samford (23-15, 11-7)
Joe Lee Griffin Field • Birmingham, Ala.
April 21-23, 2011 • Game 36-39 • 7 p.m., 7 p.m., 3 p.m.
Video: SamfordSports.com (subscription required)
• Coming off a 5-4 win over ACC foe Duke on Tuesday, UNCG will look to carry that momentum down to Birmingham, Ala. as the Spartans will kick off a three-game Southern Conference series with Samford beginning Thursday. The Spartans and Bulldogs will meet at 7 p.m. EST on Thursday in the first game and again on Friday at 7 p.m. The series will wrap up on Saturday with a 3 p.m. contest.
• On Tuesday, UNCG made the short trip to Durham to face Duke at Jack Combs Field. Duke jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, but the Spartans were able to keep things close with a pair of runs in the third. The Blue Devils would stretch their lead to 4-2 with a run in the fourth, but UNCG was able to tie the game in the seventh. Cody Walker then hit a leadoff double to start the ninth inning and would eventually score the game-winning run on a sacrifice fly by Trevor Edwards.
• UNCG trails in the all-time series against Samford, 6-0, dating back to 2009. The Spartans have never won a game against the Bulldogs since they joined the conference two seasons ago. Last season, UNCG traveled to Samford and dropped all three games. UNCG fell on Friday night, 9-5, before falling in the ninth inning on Saturday, 7-6. The Bulldogs made it a sweep on Sunday as they scored five runs in the first inning en route to an 8-4 victory.
• Samford comes into the game with a 23-15 record overall and an 11-7 mark in the SoCon. The Bulldogs are currently a game and a half in front of UNCG for third place in the SoCon heading into the weekend. On Tuesday, Samford was narrowly edged by Alabama, 7-5, at home in front of a crowd of 1,847. Last weekend, the Bulldogs dropped the first game of the series to Western Carolina, but came back to win the final two games to clinch the series win.
• Last weekend, UNCG dropped its final nonconference series of the season to James Madison, 2-1. The Dukes rallied for three runs in the ninth on Friday to tie it at seven before winning the game in 12 innings. The teams played to 12 innings again on Saturday, but this time UNCG came away with the 4-3 victory. It was all James Madison on Sunday as the Dukes put up 21 hits en route to a 17-7 win.
• Teammates Trevor Edwards and Chris Barker have been in the line of fire this season as both are in the top-5 in the SoCon in hit by pitches. Edwards currently is second in the conference after being hit 12 times already, while Barker has been hit on eight 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.
• 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.
• 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.
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