Wildcats shut down No. 3 Moss Point
Special to The Star
March 16, 2001
The University of West Alabama baseball team will welcome longtime rival West Georgia to Tartt Field for a three-game series that will open conference play for both teams this weekend.
The matchup could not come at a better time, seeing how both teams are riding high. West Alabama carries a seven-game winning streak into Saturday's matchup, while West Georgia has been a winner in six of its last seven.
After a 0-4 start, the Tigers have elevated their pitching and offensive output to move their record to 13-7. With wins over nationally ranked Columbus State and doubleheader sweeps over Concordia, Miles and LeMoyne-Owen, the Tigers appear to be peaking at exactly the right time.
Junior College transfer Scott Merkich is leading the way with 38 hits (.494 average) and 26 RBI. Coming off a preseason toe injury, senior shortstop Michael Friedlein has solidified the No. 2 spot in the Tiger lineup and is hitting .471. Ryan Gernard is leading UWA in home runs (6) and runs scored (32) to go along with his .394 batting average from the leadoff spot.
All-GSC senior Brodie Meadows, after playing in seven games to open the season, underwent season-ending surgery, and will be the recipient of a medical redshirt.
On the mound, the Tigers will miss one of their top starters, Matt Moyer, this week as he continues to recover from a slight arm injury that should keep him sidelined for another one or two weeks.
Michael Allen will start game one for the Tigers on Saturday, bringing a 2-2 record into the
opener. Freshman Josh Allums continues his solid season for the Tigers, and will start game two. His 3-0 record and 1.89 ERA are tops on the team. Brandon Lee looks to get the nod on Sunday with a record of 1-1.
The UWG Braves are off to a 16-4 start entering the conference-opening weekend, and are ranked number 30 in all of NCAA Division II. If there is an unknown in the Braves' 2001 season, it is their ability to play well on the road. In their first 20 games, only one has been outside of Carrollton, Ga., a 1-0 win at Shorter College.
West Georgia brings a power-packed offense to Tartt Field that has produced 20 home runs and 177 runs (8.9 per game) over 20 games. Ron Riddle leads the Braves hitting entourage, which hits .360 as a whole, with a monstrous .524 average, including 11 doubles and 19 RBI.
Frederick Brown is second on the squad with a .439 average, and leads the team in stolen bases (8-of-9). Jeremy Brostrom fills the primary power roll for West Georgia, and has connected on four bombs and driven in 26, both of which are tops on the team.
To go along with a productive offense, the Braves also boast four pitchers with an ERA under 2.50. Five-game starter Brooks Edwards leads the UWG starters with a 2.06 ERA, and has compiled a record of 4-1, including three complete games. Right on his heels is Andy Perkins, who has earned wins in all four of his starts, and has went the distance three times. Spencer Heil comes out of the Braves' bullpen, and is holding opposing hitters to a .161 batting average in 8.1 innings pitched.
The matchup this weekend should be a good one, with both teams riding winning streaks. Both teams couple an explosive lineup to go along with solid starting pitching.
Saturday's doubleheader will begin at 3 p.m., and the series will conclude with a single game Sunday beginning at 1 p.m.