College report: Local standouts hitting stride on baseball diamond

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With just a few weeks to go in the regular season for Division I college baseball teams across the country, local standouts remain consistent and among the nation’s best.

Listed at No. 6 in this week’s Top 25 poll, according to D1Baseball.com, N.C. State took two of three from Duke over the weekend to remain near the top of the standings within the Atlantic Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).

Steven Linkous. Photo courtesy- UNCW Athletics
Steven Linkous. Photo courtesy- UNCW Athletics

Shane Shepard (Ashley) went 1-for-1 in a pinch hit opportunity for the Wolfpack in Saturday’s 12-2 rout over the Blue Devils. Older brother Chance Shepard (Ashley) tallied just one hit during the series, but the right-handed slugger leads the team with 11 home runs and 39 RBI’s. He’s hitting .286, with 11 doubles in 161 at-bats.

While the surging Seahawks were left out of D1Baseball.com’s latest poll, UNCW received votes in the NCAA Baseball rankings after a 4-0 week. The Seahawks pushed its school-record and nation-leading home winning streak to 17 games on Sunday, while improving to 31-10 overall and 11-2 in the league.

UNCW is in first place atop the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) heading into a three-game series against College of Charleston beginning on Friday, May 6. Led by league-leading Steven Linkous (.398), the Seahawks have four of the top five hitters when it comes to batting average in the CAA. The former North Brunswick High School standout also leads the division with 58 runs scored, 68 hits and is second in the conference with 23 stolen bases.

Teammate Nick Feight is also having a career year for UNCW. Currently, the sophomore leads the nation with 70 runs batted in.

Freshman Clark Cota (Topsail) served as the designated hitter for the Seahawks in Saturday’s 10-5 win against Hofstra. The righty continues to work his way back from Tommy John surgery, but has started to see action in the UNCW lineup against left-handed pitchers. He went 1-for-2 at the plate this weekend and is 3-for-6 overall.

Gardner Webb dropped two of three to Radford in Big South play over the weekend. The Runnin’ Bulldogs are 9-8 in conference and 31-15 overall. Collin Thacker (New Hanover) smacked his 22nd double of the season to get Gardner Webb going in a 10-4 victory in game one of Saturday’s double header. During the twin bill, Thacker went a combined 5-for-9 at the plate, with three runs scored and one run batted in.

Collin Thacker. Photo courtesy- Gardner Webb Athletics
Collin Thacker. Photo courtesy- Gardner Webb Athletics

Thacker remains the nation’s leader in doubles (22). He leads Gardner Webb in four offensive categories, with a .412 batting average, 22 doubles, 73 hits and 40 runs batted in.

Western Carolina junior Bryan Sammons (Hoggard) worked around six walks with five strikeouts, battling through six innings in a no decision this past Saturday against Mercer. Sammons scattered seven hits and held Mercer to three earned runs.

In 12 starts this season, the southpaw has a 6-2 record and 5.03 ERA. He leads the team in innings pitched (73.1), with 62 strikeouts.

Despite a three hit performance by Sam Foy (New Hanover) on Sunday, the Davidson baseball team fell 12-2 to St. Louis. Foy finished with four hits over the weekend, batting .273 on the spring. The senior has 45 hits, seven doubles and 27 RBI’s.

Teammate Ward Coleman (New Hanover) is 10-for-19 on the season in limited action for the Wildcats.

UNC-Asheville scored nine of the first 11 runs on Sunday afternoon and held off a late comeback attempt from Winthrop to grab a 10-7 Big South Conference series win.

Danny Wilson (Topsail) finished 2-for-4 at the plate, with a walk and three RBI’s. In 150 at-bats, the freshman has a .253 average in 40 of 41 games played for the Bulldogs.

Belmont Abbey advanced to the Division II Conference Carolinas Championship over the weekend, dropping an 8-6 contest to Mount Olive in the finals.

The Crusaders closed the spring with a 36-13 overall record. Freshman Sam Luchansky (Topsail) saw action out of the bullpen for much of the year. His final stat line included 14 appearances, 9.2 innings pitched, 10 runs, 7 earned runs, 14 hits, 7 walks, 9 strikeouts and a 6.52 ERA.

Sam Luchansky. Photo courtesy- Jim Luchansky
Sam Luchansky. Photo courtesy- Jim Luchansky

Within the junior college ranks, Spartanburg Methodist closed the regular season with a three-game sweep against Louisburg College. The Pioneers are 20-8 in conference and 40-16 overall.

Kevon Perkins (North Brunswick) went 4-for-5 with two RBI’s and one run scored in the regular season finale on April 24. Perkins is hitting .331 this season. The sophomore has 50 runs scored, 10 doubles and seven home runs.

Mason Berne (Topsail) also continues to shine for Spartanburg Methodist. He has a .379 batting average and is tied for sixth among National Junior College Athletic Association Division I players with 20 home runs.

The Pioneers have the top seed heading into this weekend’s Region 10 Tournament in Kinston.

Brunswick Community College also swept Wake Tech over the weekend. Markel Jones (West Brunswick) went 2-for-2 with three RBI’s in the series finale.

Julian Blackburn (Hoggard) also improved to 4-1 on the mound for the Dolphins following a 10-4 win on Saturday. Blackburn allowed three runs on two hits, with two walks and six strikeouts over six innings of work.

In 176 at-bats this season, Jones is hitting .420, with 11 doubles, eight triples and eight home runs. He has 17 stolen bases and 55 runs scored. Blackburn has made five starts and 14 appearances as a freshman. In 42.2 innings pitched, he has a 2.95 earned run average, with 50 strikeouts, one complete game and one save.

Brandon Boone’s (Hoggard) last outing for Guilford Tech came on April 23 in an 8-4 setback to USC-Sumter. Boone has 51 innings pitched this season. The freshman righty has a 4-1 record and 4.76 ERA.

 

 

 

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