Fieldhouse Baseball Report, 05.19.2019

Nick Kennedy
Lefty Nick Kennedy was promoted to the Lancaster JetHawks this month (photo – Tony Farlow/Four Seam Images)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (May 19, 2019)  Tourists Baseball – Nick Kennedy, an Asheville early-season success story, was promoted on May 4 to the Advanced-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, the California League’s Lancaster JetHawksKennedy is methodically climbing the Rockies’ ladder after getting drafted in 2017 in the fifth-round out of the University of Texas

Following the draft, he was assigned to the Boise Hawks, where the Tampa, Florida native finished the year before being promoted to Asheville to open 2018. Last year was a long one for the lefty, as he posted a 4-13 mark, primarily as a starter, and a 7.08 ERA. He returned to the Tourists this year and made 12 appearances out of the pen, turning in a 3-0 mark and a 2.08 ERA, with 25 strikeouts in 17.1 innings of work. He also held opposing hitters to a .188 average, earning the notice of the parent club and the promotion to Lancaster.

The Tourists (15-26) are currently on the road facing the Lexington Legends (20-21) in Kentucky. After dropping the series opener in extras on Friday, the Asheville nine bounced back for 9-5 road victory on Saturday. Two games remain in the four-game set with the Legends. 

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UNCA faces High Point in the Big South tournament’s opening round (photo – T. Flynn)

College Baseball The Western Carolina Catamounts and UNCA Bulldogs both finished their regular season schedules this weekend and will head to their conference tournaments this week. 

UNC Asheville took on Gardner-Webb (25-24) to close out their season and opened with a win on Thursday before dropping the next two. Senior lefty Austin Fahr earned the game one victory as he yielded just one earned run and three hits, while striking out six.

UNCA (16-35, 9-18) will face sixth-seeded High Point (23-25, 14-13) on Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. at Segra Stadium in Fayetteville. It’s one of two single-elimination round games in the Big South tournament.

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The Catamounts open the SoCon tournament play on Tuesday (photo – WCU Athletics)

The Catamounts took on the Southern Conference’s Citadel in a three-game set that began on Thursday with a 4-3 victory over the Bulldogs. They dropped the next two games, and will now face the Citadel (12-42, 5-19) again on Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. at Greenville’s Fluor Field. It is a single-elimination play-in game, with the winner moving into the tournament’s double-elimination round the following day.  

The weekend was a lost opportunity for WCU (20-30, 8-16). Had the Catamounts swept, they would have bypassed the play-in and moved ahead of the VMI Keydets (17-39, 9-15) to grab the #7 seed in the tourney, and a spot in the double-elimination field.   

The area’s three other college baseball teams have completed their 2019 season with the following marks: Brevard (10-26, 2-21), Montreat (25-28, 8-19), Mars Hill (19-26, 5-18).

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Fieldhouse Report, 05.14.2019

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The Tourists defeated Greenville 2-0 on Monday night (Photo – T. Flynn)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (May 14, 2019) Tourists Baseball – Seven weeks into their South Atlantic League season, the Tourists found themselves 14-22 and 5.5 games off the pace from the Southern Division-leading Charleston RiverDogs (20-17).  Asheville has struggled with consistency at times this season with two six-game losing streaks pinning them under .500 to date. They’ve now won three out of the last four after defeating the Greenville Drive (14-22) on Monday night at McCormick Field by a 2-0 score. 

Alexander Martinez earned his eighth save of the year for Asheville on Monday, tops in the South Atlantic League. Returner Nick Kennedy has also proven effective in relief for Asheville, with a 3-0 mark, 25 strikeouts, and a 2.08 ERA while not yielding a home run in the friendly confines of McCormick Field or on the road this season. The Tourists travel to face the Rome Braves tonight. Rome is two games up on Asheville in the Southern Division with a 16-20 mark.

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Both Asheville City teams return to Memorial Stadium this week (photo – T. Flynn)

Asheville City – After the Asheville City women’s side earned a 2-2 draw on Friday, the men followed suit with the same outcome against Greenville FC on Saturday. It was the first leg of the 2019 Carolina Clasico between the two men’s sides, leaving the deciding game to Saturday, June 8 at Memorial Stadium. See the team’s site for recaps from both matches.

Asheville City’s men’s team gets underway again at Memorial on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. against the SC United Bantams, while the women are scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. friendly on Saturday.   

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Asheville School faces SouthLake Christian tonight in an NCISAA playoff game (photo – Asheville School)

Local Preps – After an extended weather delay stalled the start of their game against Davidson Day, Asheville School’s boys’ lacrosse team used eight second-half goals to earn an 11-5 victory and advance into the second round of the NCISAA playoffs. The Blues scored seven unanswered goals in the third quarter and will travel to face Huntersville’s Southlake Christian Academy (10-4) in the NCISAA DII semi-finals. The face-off is set for 7:00 p.m. tonight.

The Blues girls’ team captured an opening round victory over Davidson Day on May 7 but dropped their second-round game to top-seeded Charlotte Latin (12-4) on Friday. Asheville School concluded its season with an 8-3 record on the year after going 5-5 last season.

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Photos: Asheville City Vs. Chattanooga

Asheville City

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – (May 10, 2019)Asheville City’s women’s soccer team went up two goals in the first half, but the Chattanooga Red Wolves fought back with two of their own to tie Friday night’s friendly at Memorial Stadium and earn the 2-2 draw.

The Blues’ Jennifer Cudjoe, a returner from last year’s 8-1-1 squad, put Asheville up 1-0 in the game’s first minute. Krystal Goss later delivered a freekick from near midfield perfectly into the box, and Alessandra Tavoloni was there to finish to put the Blues up 2-0 nearly halfway through the first. The Red Wolves then scored late in the first half to put the score at 2-1 heading into halftime. Chattanooga delivered the equalizer in the game’s 58th minute. 

UNCA’s Bryson Lee got the start for the Blues and split time with Hannah Leonard in relief in goal for Asheville. The squad next returns to the pitch at Memorial at 7:00 p.m. this upcoming Saturday.  (photos – T. Flynn)

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Fieldhouse Report, 05.08.2019

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Asheville City includes (l to r): Gillian Oyos, Bryson Lee, and Maya Gutman from UNCA (photo – UNCA Athletics)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (May 8, 2019) Soccer fans heading to see the Asheville City women’s team face Chattanooga on Friday at Memorial will be able to see two UNCA Bulldogs representing the home club, and a third working her way toward a roster spot. The Blues lineup includes goalie Bryson Lee and midfielder Maya Gutman, while fellow midfielder Gillian Oyos is not on the active roster but currently trains with the team. Gutman sports #25 for the Blues, while Lee wears #0 in goal. Friday’s game is set to start at 7:00 p.m.

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The Blues’ men’s side dropped a heartbreaking 1-0 game to Inter Nashville F.C. before 1,324 fans on Tuesday night at Memorial Stadium. The winner came off a freekick from Nate Grant that Blues’ keeper Pijus Petkevicius initially saved but then bobbled, allowing Nashville’s Victor Tsado to get to the loose ball and put the game-winner away about two minutes into extra time. The team is now 1-1 overall and 0-1 in the NPSL.

Asheville City Soccer

The men travel to face NPSL rival Greenville FC at Greenville’s historic Sirrine Stadium on Friday at 7:00 p.m.

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Senior Caroline Frisch had three goals in an opening-round playoff win (photo – Asheville School)

Local Preps – Asheville School’s girls’ lacrosse team defeated Davidson Day (9-5) on Tuesday night in Asheville, 9-8. The win moves the team to 8-2 on the season and into the second round of the NCISAA DII playoffs. Senior Caroline Frisch and junior Lien Duke each had a hat trick, and sophomore Bella Baldecchi made several key saves late for the Blues. They’re scheduled to face top-seeded Charlotte Christian (11-4) this Saturday in Charlotte.

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Senior Jake Drum will try to repeat this effort at the faceoff-X on Friday (photo – Asheville School)

The Blues boys’ lacrosse team under head coach Lecky Hollar will also host Davidson Day (8-5) in its first-round NCISAA DII playoff game on Friday at 6:00 p.m. Asheville School is 9-4 overall this season. 

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Fieldhouse Baseball Report, 05.06.2019

Western Carolina Baseball Southern Conference Baseball
Matthew Koehler is third among Southern Conference hitters (photo – WCU Athletics)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (May 6, 2019)College Baseball – After a long weekend in Atlanta facing #8 Georgia Tech, the WCU Catamounts travel to face SoCon-leading Samford (34-14, 14-4) this upcoming week.

Following that, they play a single game against Eastern Kentucky (26-22) before hosting Citadel (10-36, 3-15 SoCon) on May 16-18 to close out their 2019 regular season schedule. The Southern Conference tournament begins on May 21 with a play-in game between the eight and nine teams in the conference.

The Catamounts (18-25, 7-11) have more than doubled up their 2018 regular-season win total (7) and will try to close the gap on 2017 when they went an even 28-28 on the year. This year’s team has two of the league’s top three hitters in its lineup – Justice Bigbie (.381-11-47) and Matthew Koehler (.371-12-43). The team also has wins over Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Ohio State on its 2019 resume.

Furman currently sits at 20-27 overall and in fifth place with a 9-9 record within the SoCon. The Paladins took two-of-three against VMI (8-13, 14-45) this past weekend and are led at the plate by Jabari Richards’ .347 average.

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UNCA returns to Greenwood Field on Friday (photo – T. Flynn)

The UNCA Bulldogs (14-30, 8-13 Big South) are on a 10-day hiatus after dropping a 10-8 decision to ETSU on April 30 at Greenwood Field. The team returns to face the Big South’s Radford (23-24, 14-7) this upcoming weekend beginning with a 6:00 p.m. start on Friday.

Nine of its ten teams qualify for the Big South conference tournament beginning on May 21. The six through nine seeds play a pair of single-elimination games to gain entry into the double-elimination round of the tournament. Right now, the Bulldogs are in seventh place, a half-game behind USC Upstate and a full game behind Gardner-Webb in fifth place. The Bulldogs’ Greg Gasparro is hitting at a .325 clip, good for ninth place in the circuit and best on the team.

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Photos: Tourists Vs. Suns

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Willie MacIver (center) had the game-winner for Asheville on Tues. (photo – T. Flynn)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (May 1, 2019) – The Tourists walked off the field on Tuesday night with a 5-4 win against the visiting Hagerstown Suns. The game was tied heading into the bottom of the ninth when Grant Lavigne opened the frame with a double to right field. Lavigne narrowly avoided the tag at second and set the stage for Willie MacIver‘s drive to deep left-center that ended the game and sent the Tourists (9-15) onto the field in celebration.

Picking up the win in relief for the Tourists was lefty Nick Kennedy. Kennedy is a returner for the Tourists this season and struck out two in one inning of relief work and moved to 3-0 on the season for Asheville. Started Alfredo Garcia (below) struck out eight Sun batters in just 4.2 innings but was also hit hard, allowing nine hits and three earned runs.

Asheville Pitching

Right fielder Luke Morgan made his McCormick Field debut an auspicious one when he went 2-4 with two stolen bases for the Tourists. Third baseman Danny Edgeworth made his first appearance in an Asheville uniform after two seasons with the short-season Boise Hawks. The Nashville native singled to center and drove in a run in four plate appearances. The Tourists hosts the Suns (10-15) tonight at 7:05 p.m. in the second game of the three-game series.

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Fieldhouse Report, 04.29.2019

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 22 Northern Illinois at Florida State
FSU defensive end Brian Burns (99) was the top overall pick by the Carolina Panthers. (photo – Logan Stanford/Icon Sportswire)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (April 29, 2019) – National – The Carolina Panthers made Florida State’s Brian Burns their #1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft last week. Prior to the draft, I contributed a preview article to Forbes on how it might play out for Carolina.

Tourists Baseball The Asheville Tourists snapped a seven-game skid with an 8-2 victory on Sunday against the West Virginia Power (15-7). Right-hander Shelby Lackey (1-2) proved the stopper when he allowed just one hit in five innings of work while striking out five. The Tourists are now 8-15 on the year and will host Hagerstown (10-14) tomorrow night at 7:05 p.m. at McCormick Field.

Asheville City Soccer  The Blues’ men’s and women’s sides each came away with a win in their opening weekend at Memorial Stadium. The women led off with a 2-1 victory over the sixth-year Columbus Eagles FC on Friday night. The Blues return to play on Friday, May 10 to host the Chattanooga Red Wolves at 7:00 p.m.

Two players from last year’s inaugural squad, Caroline and Emma Hauser, began play professionally this season in Sweden. 

On the men’s side, the Blues defeated the Johnson City’s Tri-City Otters by the same 2-1 score in their 2019 season opener on Saturday night. Their next game is scheduled for May 7 when they host Inter Nashville F.C. in their first NPSL match of the year.

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Brevard attackman Jackson McKaig was the region’s top goal scorer in 2019 (photo – BC Athletics)

College Lacrosse – The men’s lacrosse spring calendar is complete for area teams, with Brevard (6-7, 3-4), Furman (4-10, 2-5), Lees-McRae (4-10, 0-7), Montreat (4-11, 3-2) and Mars Hill (3-12, 0-8) all finishing their 2019 schedule in late April. Brevard College senior Jackson McKaig registered 52 goals to lead all area scorers this spring and was rewarded with a spot on the USA-South‘s first-team All-Conference squad along with teammate Robert Kokal.  

Asheville School Baseball
The Blues’ Oliver Lewis lines a double on Saturday (photo – T. Flynn)

Local Preps  – On Saturday, Asheville School fell to the visiting Anderson Cavaliers on the diamond and are now 3-8 on the season, and 1-4 in NCISAA conference play. The Blues travel to face area rival Carolina Day (4-10, 0-4) on Tuesday. The squad is led by head coach Gus Schill, who also leads the Blues on the gridiron each fall. 

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Asheville School captured a 15-2 victory over Science Hill (Tenn.) this weekend (photo – T. Flynn)

On the lacrosse field, the Blues boys’ team moved to 8-3 on the year after defeating Johnson City’s Science Hill. In local play this season to date, Asheville School dropped an 18-3 decision to Arden’s nationally-ranked Christ School (16-2) earlier this month, and has two wins over first-year program T.C. Roberson (5-9) and a victory over Asheville Empire‘s club team.

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Fieldhouse Baseball Report, 04.24.2019

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The Tourists’ Will Golsan (photos – Tony Farlow/Four Seam Images)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (April 24, 2019) Asheville is 7-11 on the young season after dropping a Tuesday night decision on the road to the Delmarva Shorebirds. The Shorebirds (14-2) and Tourists were locked in a scoreless tie through six before Delmarva broke through with four in the seventh and three more in the eighth for the win. Shelby Lackey got the start for Asheville and was effective, allowing just two hits and striking out seven in five complete innings of work. Righty Eric Hepple (0-1) was tagged with the loss after yielding two runs in 1.1 innings of relief work. Lefty Zach Matson picked up the win in relief for Delmarva. 

Left fielder Will Golsan is tied for the team lead in home runs to date with four in 67 at-bats. He also leads the team in RBIs with 16. Last year, he hit just three in 63 games for the Rockies’ rookie-league affiliate, Grand Junction (Colo.). He’s a native of Columbus, Mississippi and played his college baseball for Ole Miss, before getting drafted in the 26th round last year. Willie MaclverCatcher Will MacIver (left) also has four for the Tourists. MacIver played for the Rockies’ short-season Boise Hawks last year and had five home runs in 54 games. He was drafted in the ninth-round out of Washington last June following a junior season with the Huskies that saw him play both catcher and infield and hit three round-trippers in 170 total plate appearances.

The Tourists return to the field tonight to try to salvage the final game of the three-game series with the Shorebirds with the first pitch set for 7:05 p.m.  Their next home date is on Tuesday, April 30 against the Hagerstown Suns (9-9), the Class A affiliate of the Washington Nationals.

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UNCA’s Jake Madole gets the bat head out in front last week against Winthrop (photo UNCA Athletics)

College Baseball Following a Tuesday night loss to Wofford, the UNC Asheville Bulldogs continued their annual tradition of shaving their heads to raise cancer awareness. It was the seventh-straight year for the team’s annual “Vs. Cancer” game. 

The Bulldogs return to the diamond tonight in Cullowhee to face the SoCon’s Western Carolina (17-18, 6-9). The Bulldogs (13-26, 8-10 Big South) dropped a decision earlier this year to the Catamounts at Greenwood Field. First pitch is set for 6:00 p.m.

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Asheville City Men’s Soccer Preview

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Asheville City men’s team begins play this Saturday (photo T. Flynn)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (April 21, 2019) – Fieldhouse recently spoke with Asheville City’s men’s soccer head coach, Mick Giordano. Last year was Giordano’s first as head coach of the Blues and the team’s second campaign ever. Giordano is currently on the UNCA men’s soccer staff and also graduated as a Bulldog after two seasons with the team in 2012 and 2013. He’s previously coached at Wake Forest and Wofford.

The Blues host their 2019 season opener this Saturday (April 27) at Memorial Stadium at 7:00 p.m against the Tri-City Otters

The interview was conducted at Asheville City’s 2019 launch event on March 28 and was edited for length and clarity.

On the 2019 Squad

We’re looking at carrying 26 to 27 [players] at most on the first team, and then we’re fortunate, we’ve added the AC Academy. That will be some of the younger boys and some will certainly factor in and be pulled up to the first team. They’ll also be able to go back and be in an environment that’s a little bit more suitable for them full-time. 

We’re in a good spot with the roster. A lot of what we’ve done this year has been straight recruiting and the staff was fantastic. With us watching games throughout the fall, we probably watched over 150-200 games. 

After personal conversations, speaking with coaches, or recommendations that we got from other coaches, we’re pretty happy with the roster. We think that it’s going to be a good group. We’ve got seven coming back; several of them were starting guys that were really important for us. 

(Returners include: Bruno Andrade, Lukas Joyner, Luke Matthews (pictured above), Will Mims, Frank Rosenwald, Jamie Smith, and Nathan Watt)

On the Team’s Expanding Reach

We’ve been going and tapping into some new markets in Oklahoma, Colorado, and California where maybe we didn’t know the coach last year, or we didn’t know someone [there] before. Coming back now, the club’s done a really good job with getting its name out and word of how well it treats its players. 

Of the boys that played last year, 98% were still in college, and so when they went back – they obviously had a good experience – they spread the word. So, last year we had a lot of interest, and this year we’ve had even more. It’s been awesome in that way. The club’s name is out there.

On Playing in Asheville

Our fans are unbelievable. That certainly makes it easier to talk to a college player coming here in the summer. It’s a great professional environment, and they can play in front of 2,000 – 3,000. It’s almost a no-brainer. So with the try-outs and the recruiting, it was quite nice and quite easy. What was difficult were the decisions to set the roster. 

I think you take Detroit, you take Chattanooga, and then you take us and those are the top three environments in the NPSL (National Premier Soccer League). Our fans are at the very top.

It’s crazy – it’s hard to get the boys to hear you sometimes. We’re right there [next to the stands]. We made the change after the first year when our bench was right where the South Slope Blues are. Last year we changed our bench to go where the assistant referee is, on that line.

We’ve got a little notepad that, if we need to, we’ll write notes if the boys can’t hear us and we’ll pass it along to them.

I absolutely love having that environment.

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Asheville City head coach, Mick Giordano (photo – T. Flynn)

On Coaching in Asheville Year-Round

Coach [Mathes] Mennell, the head coach at UNCA, was actually my first boss in the college game and gave me my first start. So, I’ve been able to come back and join his staff as well which has been great.

Matt Tellez is the other assistant (at both UNCA and with Asheville City) and he’s one of my best friends, so it’s been really fortunate. I came back up and worked with Coach Mennell again and it’s just been fantastic. 

On the Team’s Style of Play

We want to be able to have possession. Everyone’s going to say that, but for us it’s not just keeping it, to keep it. It’s up to us to keep it, to break lines, and get the goal and be attacking-oriented. So, we’re going to have this possessing style that has an attacking purpose to it.

On the road, I learned as a first-year coach, there are times in certain environments – on certain fields – that we’re not gonna be able to do that in our conference, unfortunately. So, on the road, just like a pro team, maybe it’s a little uglier, maybe it’s a little bit more direct, maybe it’s just a solid block and you’re defending a little deeper and you’re not pressing, but you go find a way to get a one-nil result.

At the end of the day, one-nil results get you three points, and those get you at the top of the table.

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Photos: UNCA Vs. Furman

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UNCA hosted Furman on Tuesday evening (photos T. Flynn)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (April 17, 2019) The UNCA Bulldogs hosted the Furman Paladins on Tuesday evening at Greenwood Field. The Paladins put up one run in the third and two more in the fifth, good enough to earn the 3-2 victory. Furman’s Nik Verbeke (2-4) earned the win in relief for the visiting Paladins (13-23). Verbeke pitched two scoreless innings and limited the Bulldogs to one baserunner. UNCA’s Danny Wilson (0-4) pitched 4.1 innings and was tagged with the loss.

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Dax Roper, Anthony Fontana, and Bret Huebner each had two hits for Furman. Roper and Huebner laced doubles, while the Paladins’ #6 hitter, Sterling Turmon, had a home run for the guests. Carmine Pagano and Jacob Edwards had two hits apiece for the Bulldogs.

UNCA travels to face Charleston Southern (14-26) to begin a three-game set on Thursday, while Furman will travel to Cullowhee to face the SoCon’s Western Carolina (16-16) on the same day.

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