ASHEVILLE, N.C. (June 18, 2019) – College Baseball – UNCA’sBrandon Lankford, who last month was named as a first-team member of the Big South’s All-Conference squad, added a North Carolina Collegiate Sports Information Association (NCCSIA) All-State honor to his postseason awards last week. He was joined on the All-State team by fellow Bulldogs Austin Fahr (pitcher) and Greg Gasparro (pitcher-outfielder).
Lankford is also one of ten players who will play summer league baseball this year for UNCA. He’s currently playing for the Sanford (Maine) Mainers in the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL). Other Bulldogs active this summer include: Chris Troost (Southern Collegiate), Anthony Cuozzi (Coastal Plains), PJ Heintz (Southern Collegiate), JP Perez (Southern Collegiate), Tyler Serricchio (NECBL), Jacob Edwards (The Valley League), Wade Chandler (CVCL), Dominic Freeberger (Futures) and Hunter Hoopes (The Valley League).
In the area college ranks, the Brevard Tornados named Mike Victoryas their new head coach this week. Victory arrives from Allegheny College in Pennsylvania and also served on the staff for USA Baseball and St. Mary’s College (Md.), where he was a pitcher as an undergraduate. On the diamond, the Tornados had second baseman Ryan Roon named to the NCCSIA All-State team within the college division category. He’s the first Tornado named to the squad since 2015, and the only player on the team in the college division from the western North Carolina area.
Tourists Baseball – The Tourists concluded the first half of their season with a 29-41 mark after dropping a 6-5 decision to the Lakewood BlueClaws on Monday. The Sally League is now on a three-game All-Star break, with the Tourists returning to play on Thursday when they host the Columbia Fireflies at 7:05 p.m. at McCormick Field. The South Atlantic League splits the season into two halves, so the Tourists will begin Thursday’s game with a 0-0 mark, along with the rest of the circuit.
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.
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 midfielderGillian Oyosis 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.
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.
The men travel to face NPSL rival Greenville FC at Greenville’s historic Sirrine Stadium on Friday at 7:00 p.m.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Catcher 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.
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.
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (April 21, 2019) – Fieldhouse recently spoke with Asheville City’smen’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 staffand 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.
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.
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.
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.
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (April 16, 2019) – National – The Carolina Panthers signed wide receiver Chris Hogan on Friday, their biggest free agent addition in recent weeks as the 2019 NFL Draft approached in late April. Here’s an article I contributed to Forbes on Hogan, as well as several other recent roster moves by the team.
College Baseball – The UNCA Bulldogs opened their Big South weekend series with a 12-2 victory over the Winthrop Eagles (20-15, 10-5 Big South) on Friday. Lefty Jordan Carr captured his third win of the season when he threw 5.2 innings, striking out five and allowing two earned runs. Blake Brown picked up his first save in relief for the Bulldogs. Third baseman Brandon Lankford had a home run and two RBIs for UNCA.
The Eagles came back to take a doubleheader on Saturday and capture the series win. As a result, the Bulldogs dropped to 12-22 overall and 7-8 in the conference. They host Furman (12-23, 5-7 SoCon) tonight at 6:00 p.m. at Greenwood Field.
College Tennis – Brevard College’s Samantha Sepe ran her current match winning streak to 11-straight and for the effort was named the USA South Conference Women’s Tennis Player of the Week.
The Niceville, Florida junior went 2-0 at both doubles and singles in matches against LaGrange (Ga.) and Huntingdon (AL). As previously reported, Sepe strung together a 96-game consecutive win streak in recent weeks. The Tornados are 12-5 on the season and in third place in the USA South’s West Division. Brevard hosts Piedmont today at 3:00 p.m.
College Lacrosse – Senior attackman Hewitt Farr earned the USA South’s Men’s Lacrosse Player of the Week honors for his work last week. Farr had five goals and four assists in an 18-5 win over Averett (Va.). He added two groundballs and two caused turnovers. On the season, Farr has 48 goals and 19 assists and opened the year with an eight-goal outing against the only area rival Brevard faced this season, Montreat.
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (March 27, 2019) – College Baseball – The UNCA Asheville Bulldogs are 8-14 to date this season with an even 3-3 mark in the Big South Conference. They travel tonight to face the SoCon’s ETSU in a non-conference midweek game. The Bucs, at 17-15, will be a test for the Bulldogs before they return home for a weekend conference series against Longwood (Va.) (7-16, 2-4). The first pitch in the three-game series is set for 6:00 p.m. on Friday under the lights at Greenwood Field.
Rounding out the Fieldhouse programs in the WNC/Upstate region are WCU(10-11, 0-3 SoCon), Furman(5-16, 0-3 SoCon),Brevard (6-17, 1-13 USA-South),Montreat (15-15, 2-19 NAIA), andMars Hill (12-18, 2-12 SAC).
College Softball – Nearby on college softball diamonds, all five area teams are well into their 2019 seasons. They include WCU (10-17, 0-3 SoCon),Furman (9-20, 1-2 SoCon), Mars Hill (18-9, 2-2 SAC), Brevard (10-15, 4-2 USA South), and Montreat(18-18, 9-7).
To date, the best stories of the season are in the non-DI ranks, as Mars Hill, Montreat, and Brevard are each poised to post far better marks than last season. The Lions have already eclipsed their 17 wins of last year, the Cavs have equaled their 2018 total, and the Tornados are within a win of last season’s total.
Preps – Black Mountain’s picturesque Owen High School has both its baseball and softball seasons in full swing on the hills rising from the Swannanoa Valley. See this week’s Black Mountain News for articles on both teams: (baseball, softball)
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (March 12, 2019) – College Baseball – In an annual battle with the elements, college baseball teams in the Western Carolina/Upstate areas are beginning to gain the upper hand and get in more games with fewer cancellations.
At the NCAA DI level, the area’s three teams are off to varied starts: Western Carolina (Southern 8-5, 0-0), UNC Asheville (Big South 5-9, 0-0), and Furman (Southern 4-9, 0-0). Western is the turnaround story of the group to date as the Catamounts won just seven regular-season games last year before rattling off four wins in the Southern Conference tournament. They defeated two Big-10 teams this past week (Michigan State, Ohio State) and were set to host Notre Dame (ACC 6-8, 1-2)at Hennon Stadium tomorrow.
There are also three non-DI baseball teams in the region, as Lees-McRae and Warren Wilson don’t field squads. They are: Montreat (AAC (NAIA) 11-10, 1-4), Brevard (USA South 4-12, 0-8), and Mars Hill ( SAC 8-12, 2-6).
In the only 2019 game scheduled between the three teams, the Tornados topped the Cavs 4-3 in a weekday game on February 14.
In late February, Montreat’s Lydia Wilson earned All-American honors for the fourth time at the NAIA Nationals in Brookings, South Dakota. I recently wrote about the distance runner and the program’s efforts for the Black Mountain News.
College Lacrosse– Last week I had an article in Forbes online on how the UNC and Duke programs still comprise the power hub of men’s NCAA DI lacrosse in the South, despite expansion in the sport in the region and nationwide. The two universities are best known for their basketball rivalry and first faced-off on the lacrosse field in 1938. They’ll renew their rivalry this year on March 30 in Chapel Hill.