Taking to the diamond
UPDATE: Alabama wins the opener, 4-3, and wins Saturday's game, 7-1. Baseball Opens 2017 Season at Alabama This Weekend
• Who: Presbyterian (0-0) at Alabama (0-0)
• When: Friday (6 p.m. ET), Saturday (6 p.m. ET), Sunday (2 p.m. ET)
• Where: Sewell Thomas Stadium - Tuscaloosa, Ala.
• Live Video: SEC Network+ - Friday | Saturday | Sunday
• Social Media – @PresbyterianBSB (Twitter) | @BlueHoseSports (Twitter/Instagram)
Series History (since 2008)
• Overall - First Meeting
• At Alabama - First Meeting
• Friday - RHP Tanner Chock (PC) vs. RHP Nick Eicholtz (UA)
• Saturday - LHP Brian Kehner (PC) vs. RHP Jake Walters (UA)
• Sunday - LHP Hayden Deal (PC) vs. LHP Dylan Duarte (UA)
• PC opens the season with a true road series for the first time since 2013. That year, PC opened with a four-game series at Savannah State to start the season as a part of a nine-game road trip.
• The Blue Hose will face an SEC opponent in a three-game series for the first time since 2014. PC traveled to Auburn for a three-game series that season, which it will do again in 2016, taking the series opener.
• PC enters 2017 having reached 27 wins in each of the last two seasons, the high-water mark for wins in PC’s Division I era (since 2008).
• The Blue Hose also set a program record with 12 Big South wins last season en route to its first appearance in the Big South Tournament. The team finished tied for sixth in the Big South standings in 2016, the team’s best-ever finish in the league.
•The Crimson Tide went 32-26 a season ago with a 15-15 record in the SEC, finishing ninth in the conference.
• UA returns three of four starting pitchers from last season and five of its eight starting position players.
• Chandler Avant is the top returning hitter for the Tide, after batting .278 with a team-high 15 doubles a year ago. Chandler Taylor returns after homering nine times last season with a team-best .482 slugging percentage, both tops among returners.
• On the mound, Jake Walters returns after leading Alabama in a number of categories last year, including wins and strikeouts.
Chock, Kehner All-Big South by Perfect Game
• Junior right-hander Tanner Chock and senior lefty Brian Kehner were picked to the Preseason All-Big South team by Perfect Game. The two hurlers will anchor the PC rotation for the second straight season.
• Chock was 3-4 with a 4.60 ERA in 86.0 innings pitched across 15 starts a year ago, totaling 72 strikeouts against 44 walks and holding hitters to a .259 average. He turned it up a notch in conference play, going 3-0 with a 2.61 ERA in eight starts and a .198 opponents’ batting average.
• Kehner recorded a team-best 2.94 ERA in 95.0 innings pitched across 15 starts, compiling a 5-7 record with a .224 opponent batting average and 78 strikeouts against 13 walks. The lefty started the year 4-0 with an 0.68 ERA after his first four starts, allowing just two runs on 13 hits with 24 strikeouts against three walks in his first 26.1 innings pitched.
• Kehner tied the PC Division I era single-game record for strikeouts with 13 at Campbell on May 6, going 8.0 innings and allowing just one run on two hits.
Chock, Avery Top Prospects in Big South
• Tanner Chock was also named the No. 2 prospect in the Big South this season by both Perfect Game and D1Baseball.com. Chock was also the top pitching prospect in the league for 2017, according to Perfect Game.
• Chock’s best performance last year came against Gardner-Webb on March 25, throwing a two-hit shutout with seven strikeouts against no walks in 3-0 PC victory. He went on to have a strong summer in the Cape Cod League, compiling a 1.77 ERA in 20.1 innings pitched with his team winning each of the four games that he started.
• Additionally, Cletis Avery was named the league’s ninth-best prospect for this season. Avery batted .269 with 14 doubles, two triples and five home runs last year in his first season with the program. The shortstop started 56 of the 57 games and finished second on the team in stolen bases with 15 on the year. Avery scored 40 runs and drove in 30 more for the Blue Hose on the year.
Weyenberg Looks to Pick Up Where He Left Off
• Senior outfielder Tyler Weyenberg established a Division I era school record last season with a 23-game hitting streak in the first half of the year. He, remarkably, followed that up with a 14-game hitting streak, as he went on to collect a hit in 49 of 57 games.
• The then junior also reached base in each of the first 28 games of the season, which led the team last season. He recorded a team-high 27 multi-hit games, including seven three-hit games.
• Weyenberg’s .358 average was the third-best in school history since moving to Division I in 2008, while his 83 hits were the the most since 2011. In addition, his 16 stolen bases were the most in PC’s D1 era and the most since 2001.
From Closer to Starter
• Senior left-hander Hayden Deal served as PC’s closer for the 2016 season, totaling seven saves and making 31 appearances out of the pen to total 30.2 innings pitched. He will open the 2017 season in the starting rotation.
• This will not be Deal’s first time starting. In his career at PC, he has made seven starts, five of which came as a freshman in 2014. His last start came on April 4, 2015 against Campbell, as he worked 4.2 innings and allowed three runs on five hits with three walks against one strikeout.
PC Sets New Highs in 2016
• Head coach Elton Pollock returns for his 13th season at helm of his alma mater, after leading the Blue Hose to a Division I era record 27 wins in each of the last two seasons. The Blue Hose also established a school record with 12 Big South wins, leading to its first appearance in the Big South Tournament.
• PC compiled a 17-10 record in home games last season, including a 9-3 mark against conference opponents. The Blue Hose won six of their seven home weekend series, including all four against Big South opponents.
30th Season of PC’s Modern Era
• The 2017 season marks the 30th season of the PC Baseball program since it was reinstated in 1988. The program’s last season had been 1967 before it was revived in with the 1988 season. The Blue Hose have won 668 games over the previous 29 seasons.
• During the 30-year span, PC has seen just three coaches lead the program. Its first head coach when the program returned was Tim Corbin, who led the Blue Hose for six seasons from 1988-1993. Corbin recently won a National Championship as head coach at Vanderbilt in 2014.
• Doug Kovash took over as head coach in 1994 and would lead the program for 11 seasons. Kovash won two conference championships, coming in 1998 and 2003, and established school record for wins in a season with 40 in 1998.
• One of Kovash’s former players would become PC’s third head coach, as Elton Pollock assumed the duties beginning with the 2005 season. Pollock is now in his 13th season at the helm of the program and helped lead PC through the transition to Division I.
Crocco Elevated to Assistant Head Coach
Presbyterian College baseball assistant coach Mark Crocco has been elevated to Assistant Head Coach, head coach Elton Pollock announced on Thursday. Crocco earns the promotion prior to his fifth season with the program.
“Coach Crocco’s hard work, loyalty and support for Presbyterian College are incredible,” said head coach Elton Pollock. “This promotion recognizes all of the great work he has done and his dedication to our program over the past four seasons. He has an outstanding passion for the game, is always willing to go above and beyond, and is 100% committed to our success. He has truly had a positive impact on this program and is deserving of his new title.”
Crocco, who joined the PC program in 2013, was named the top recruiter in the Big South by D1Baseball.com earlier this offseason. The program has put together back-to-back 27-win seasons, the high-water mark for wins in PC’s Division I era, with Crocco serving as recruiting coordinator for both. His efforts helped PC make its first appearance in the Big South Championship last season, after totaling a school record 12 Big South victories.
“I am truly humbled and honored to be able to serve under Coach Pollock over the past four years,” Crocco said. “PC Baseball is a family and to be named Assistant Head Coach is truly a blessing. The players in this program deserve all the credit. They have been committed to the vision that we have set in place as a coaching staff and truly embrace what servant leadership is all about. I am very excited for the future of this program and the caliber of character each of these young men develop in their time at PC, both on and off the field.”
Crocco's guidance helped the Blue Hose to a sixth-place finish in the Big South in 2016, its best since transitioning to Division I. PC’s two-best fielding seasons since 2008 have both come in Crocco’s tenure as infield coach. The Blue Hose fielded a D1-era best .972 in his first season in 2013, before managing a .970 fielding percentage last season under his watch with its two-lowest error totals coming in each of the respective seasons.
Crocco arrived at PC in 2013 after two seasons as an assistant coach at The United States Air Force Academy. He also helped guide the squad to four All-Mountain West Conference selections and a school record for fielding percentage in 2011.
PC Hosts Furman Friday, Heads to Davidson Saturday
The Presbyterian College men’s tennis team returns to action this weekend with matches against Furman and Davidson. The Paladins will come to Clinton for a 3 p.m. match on Friday, before PC goes on the road to take on Davidson at 1 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.
The Blue Hose stand at 5-3 on the season after sweeping all three matches at the Alabama State Invitational in Montgomery, Ala. last weekend. Furman will enter Friday’s match with the same mark at 5-3, while Davidson enters the weekend with a 7-2 record.
PC captured both of the Big South weekly honors earlier this week. Ben Kelley was named the league’s Player of the Week after going 5-0 overall last week. Jaime Castillo-Lopez earned the conference’s Freshman of the Week honor with a 4-0 week, including a 3-0 mark in doubles play. It was the first time PC has won both honors in the same week since April 8, 2014, one of three such occasions that season.
PC and Furman last met on the courts last season in Greenville with the Paladins coming away with the 4-3 victory. The Blue Hose won the doubles with wins on courts one and two, but FU took four of the six singles matches for the win. Alejandro Bejar earned a three-set win at No. 2 in singles in the match with Kelley taking a straight sets win at No. 6.
Updates from both matches can be found on the team’s Twitter account, @PackthePondo.