Red-hot Railsplitters visit Bears for weekend SAC series

Published 3:00 pm Thursday, March 14, 2019

HICKORY, N.C. – Winners of five straight games, the Railsplitters will look to keep it rolling this weekend when they play their third South Atlantic Conference road series of the season with a trip to Hickory, N.C., to face the Lenoir-Rhyne Bears.

Lincoln Memorial (16-8, 7-2 SAC) swept its second conference series in three tries this past weekend with a three-game sweep at Carson-Newman, and followed that up with a hard-fought 7-6 win over Virginia-Wise on Tuesday. The Railsplitters enter the weekend as winners in 10 of their last 12 games and in second place in the SAC standings.

Lenoir-Rhyne (11-12, 4-5 SAC) is also riding high after overpowering Queens in a three-game sweep last weekend in Charlotte, N.C. The Bears also defeated Benedict 8-2 on Wednesday to carry a four-game winning streak into Friday’s series opener against the Railsplitters.

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The Railsplitters and Bears will start their series at 6 p.m. on Friday at the Lenoir-Rhyne University Baseball Field before wrapping things up with a doubleheader on Saturday starting at 1 p.m.

Notes on Lenoir-Rhyne

– After being swept by Newberry and dropping two of three against Anderson, the Bears built some momentum in SAC play this past weekend by sweeping Queens by scores of 4-1, 9-5 and 12-4. That helped Lenoir-Rhyne move to ninth in the conference standings.

– In its 8-2 win over Benedict on Wednesday, Clayton Jeffries went 3-for-4 with two RBI and a walk, while Aaron Stamper hit a home run. Seven different players contributed at least one hit for the Bears, who outhit their opposition 10-4 total.

– Lenoir-Rhyne has been a middle-of-the-road offense with a .284 batting average, .387 on-base percentage and .408 slugging percentage. The Bears have a bit of pop, ranking second in the league with 59 doubles and fourth in extra-base hits with 72, though only 10 of those knocks have left the park.

– Jeffries leads the Bears’ offense with 33 hits and a .379 average. The senior has six doubles and 23 RBI with a .456 on-base percentage.

– Jeffries is one of only five players with at least 40 plate appearances for Lenoir-Rhyne hitting above .300 along with Grant Fuller (.342), Caleb Beatty (.320), Matthew Freeman (.357) and Stamper (.311). Of that group, Fuller is the only one with over 60 at-bats this season, as the senior has compiled a team-high eight doubles.

– The L-R pitching staff ranks fourth in the SAC in batting average against at .255, though the team is seventh in ERA with a 5.28 mark.

– The Railsplitters are likely to face the trio of Alex Shirazi, Paul Hall and Jake Conroy in some order this weekend. Shirazi is 1-2 with a 3.41 ERA and 34 strikeouts across 34.1 innings, Hall is 3-2 with a 5.14 ERA and 37 strikeouts in just 28 innings, and Conroy is 1-2 as well with a 6.23 ERA and 29 whiffs in 26 innings.

– L-R starting pitcher John Grigg was named to the preseason All-SAC first team, but has yet to make an appearance this season. First baseman Alex Reynolds was named to the second team, but has hit just .206 in 19 appearances and 16 starts.

– Lenoir-Rhyne has actually been much better on the road than at home this season, posting a 7-5 road record compared to a 4-7 mark in Hickory.

Series History

– The Railsplitters are 25-14 all-time against Lenoir-Rhyne and have won 12 of the last 15 meetings overall.

– Lincoln Memorial took two of three from the Bears in last season’s series at Lamar Hennon Field, winning games one and two 12-2 and 6-4 before falling in the finale 10-5.

– The Railsplitters are 10-6 all-time in Hickory. They swept the series there in 2017 by scores of 7-4, 17-10 and 8-3.