23 Sep

GAME NOTES: No. 2 UWF to Open GSC Play at Valdosta State

first_img VALDOSTA, Ga. – The No. 2 West Florida baseball team (13-3) opens Gulf South Conference play this weekend against defending champion Valdosta State.  The Argonauts clinched the regular season GSC East championship against VSU last year, but they were eliminated from the GSC Tournament and the NCAA South Regional by the Blazers.  UWF and VSU will meet six times during the regular season in 2011.  Valdosta State leads the all-time series 34-19.2011 UWF Baseball Game Notes:- 3/5 @ Valdosta State – 2/26 vs. Florida Southern – 2/19 vs. Delta State – 2/12 vs. Flagler – 2/1 vs. Montevallo, @ Rollins Scouting the BlazersValdosta State (5-10) is off to a slow start to the 2011 season, but the Blazers have faced ranked opponents in seven of their first 15 games.   VSU was ranked No. 14 in the preseason Collegiate Baseball Newspaper national poll, but the Blazers dropped out after the first week.  Valdosta State is hitting .268 as a team and scoring 5.9 runs per game, and first baseman Bobby Triglia leads the lineup with a .378 average and five home runs.  Brett Kennedy returns to lead the Blazers rotation, and he is off to an 0-2 start with a 4.09 ERA.New HeightsUWF continued its climb up the polls this week, jumping to No. 2 in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association polls.  The Argonauts are also No. 3 according to College Baseball Lineup.  The team’s highest national ranking before this season was No. 11, dating back to 2005.Clean SweepUWF swept Florida Southern in three games at home last weekend.  The Argonauts’ starting rotation combined to allow just one unearned run, and the bullpen was needed for just 3.2 innings during the weekend.  The sweep marked the fourth of the year for UWF, including series against Montevallo, Rollins and Delta State.Pick Your PoisonThrough 16 games, the starting rotation of Jason Postill, Daniel Vargas-Vila, Ben Hawkins and midweek starter Kevin Peters has allowed a 1.32 ERA.  Through 95.2 innings pitched, the starters have struck out 100 batters and walked just 29.  This past weekend it was Hawkins’ turn to shine, throwing a four-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts and no walks in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader.  Hawkins was named GSC and NCBWA South Region Pitcher of the Week.Doubles MachineGreg Pron already has 11 doubles this season, surpassing his 10 doubles all of last year.  The senior also tallied eight doubles in both his freshman and sophomore seasons, giving him 37 in his career.  Pron ranks fifth in program history, as Stephen Jackson is the school’s all-time leader with 64.  The senior is also just one RBI short of matching Jackson’s school record in that category at 134.Closing TimeRight-hander Shane Waller has stepped into the closer’s role this year, and he has allowed just one hit in six innings.  The senior has also struck out 11 batters and notched two saves.  Waller has been successful in tight situations, inheriting seven runners with none of them scoring.New Face in the LineupSenior Eric Kroll has played his way into a bigger role, sharing time at designated hitter with Zach Taylor.  The left-handed hitter is batting .500 in 20 at bats in 2011, including a triple and two home runs, giving him a team-best .900 slugging percentage.  The four-year senior is hitting .285 in his career, and he holds a career on-base percentage of .405.Fast StartThe Argonauts won their 10th game of the season on Feb. 20, marking the earliest the team has reached that total since 2007. The Argos picked up their 10th win of 2007 in a 12-3 victory against Quincy on Feb. 18, and David Pedro earned the win out of the bullpen.  The Argos took two days longer to reach 10 wins in 2011, but 2007’s team was 10-3 to open the year.  This year’s 13-1 start is the program’s best in its 17-year history in the Gulf South Conference.Flirting With HistoryKevin Johnson, now pitching in the Angels minor league system, hurled UWF’s first no-hitter at the Division II level last season.  Two pitchers have come close this year, including Daniel Vargas-Vila’s one-hitter against Delta State.  Vargas-Vila earned GSC Pitcher of the Week honors for his performance.  Jason Postill also took a no-hitter into the fifth inning in the first week of the season against Rollins, and he finished that game with seven scoreless innings and just one hit allowed.When the Saints Go Marching InUWF is off to a 13-3 record so far this year, and the team’s three losses have been to two teams using “Saints” as their nicknames: Flagler and North Georgia.  The Argonauts took a series from Flagler at home 2-1, and they were swept by North Georgia in a two-game midweek series on the road this week.Tino Martinez Watch ListSeniors Dustin Lawley and Jason Postill were two of 91 student-athletes to be named to the preseason watch list for the Tino Martinez Award, an award honoring the top overall player in Division II baseball.  The Tino Martinez Award is coordinated by College Baseball Lineup, and Erskine College slugger Bryan Fogle was the first winner of the award in 2010.Walk This WaySenior Brandon Brewer became the first Argonaut to reach 100 walks earlier this season, and he now stands at 103 in his career.  The shortstop has started all but one game in his four-year career at UWF, and he boasts a career on-base percentage of .413.Experienced TeamOf West Florida’s 37-man roster, 25 of the players are upperclassmen this season.  Along with 12 returning seniors, UWF also boasts 13 juniors, including 11 incoming transfers.  Of the team’s 12 seniors, five players are back as four-year seniors: Brandon Brewer, Tyler Hastings, Eric Kroll, Greg Pron and Sixto Velasco.Defending (Divisional) ChampsThe Argonauts won the GSC East Division last season with a conference mark of 11-3, but divisional rival Valdosta State came away with the overall title in the GSC Tournament.  In the preseason coaches’ poll, UWF was picked to repeat as GSC East champs, but VSU was picked to win the overall title for a second straight season.Hall of Fame PitcherFormer Argonaut right-hander Bryan Lee was one of five individuals inducted into the UWF Athletics Hall of Fame in February.  Lee pitched for the Argonauts from 2002-05, compiling a school record 31 wins with an ERA of 2.89.  Lee was a three-time All-GSC selection, and in 2002 he was GSC Freshman of the Year.Preseason All-StarsUWF led all schools in the GSC with six preseason All-GSC players.  Starters Jason Postill and Daniel Vargas-Vila and reliever Zach North return to lead the pitching staff, while Tyler Hastings, Dustin Lawley and Greg Pron return to lead the lineup.  Postill was also one of three starting pitchers to earn a spot on the NCBWA Preseason All-South Region Team.Coaching Staff AdditionsHead coach Mike Jeffcoat will have plenty of experience on the coaching staff this year, as former Argonaut infielders Kyle Brown (UWF ’10) and Pat Cottrell (UWF ’04) join the staff as graduate assistant coaches.  Brown finished his four-year career with the Argonauts last season, and he was an all-region and gold glove-winning second baseman.  Cottrell played for UWF in 2003 and 2004, and he was an all-region pick as a senior and hit .345 in his Argonaut career.  Cottrell also played in the Rays minor league system for five seasons after being drafted in 2004, reaching as high as Double A.  Brown played professionally for the Pensacola Pelicans of the American Association in 2010.Looking AheadAfter this weekend’s GSC opening series at Valdosta State, the Argonauts will host GSC West opponent Arkansas Tech in a non-conference series on March 12-13.  That date will mark the start of a nine-game homestand, including a GSC series against West Georgia on March 19-20.Print Friendly Version Left-hander Ben Hawkins is the reigning GSC and NCBWA South Region Pitcher of the Week (Photo by Bill Stockland) Sharecenter_img GAME NOTES: No. 2 UWF to Open GSC Play at Valdosta Statelast_img

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