Baseball downs Big East opponents, sets sights high

by: Max Carter – Staff Writer
UNC Asheville’s baseball team made new additions to the Bulldog coaching staff and heightened their expectations for the 2013 season.
The new faces alongside Head Coach Tom Smith are those of assistant coach Jeremy Plexico, assistant coach Brent Walsh and volunteer coach Jordan Lurie.    Lurie was an All-Conference player before graduating from UNCA last year.
Plexico, an All American out of Winthrop University and former professional baseball player, coaches the pitchers and is involved in Bulldog recruiting.
Smith was very positive when discussing the newly attained assistant coach Plexico and his role for this season.
“He is the right person to be leading our pitching staff,” Smith said.
Those who play for Plexico say they have good experiences with their new coach.
“Coach Plexico is very hands on. He even works out with us,” said Evan Joura, a sophomore pitcher.
Plexico’s style of coaching is proactively unifying the Bulldog team, according to Joura.
“The team chemistry has gotten a whole lot better compared to last season,” Joura said.
The players are not the only ones who have noticed the alliance the team has cultivated.
“The team has grown closer and they have become much more accountable for one another,” Smith said.
The team’s improvements on the field have not gone unnoticed, said Plexico. He has observed a motivated demeanor in each player.
“They all have a hunger to do things the right way,” said Plexico.
Last year the Bulldogs finished the season with 25 wins and 30 losses, landing the fourth place spot in the Big South Conference. This record surpassed the prediction they would finish the season in last place.
The Bulldogs made a drastic improvement from the 2011 season, where they only recorded 15 wins.
So far the Bulldogs have won four games and lost seven, but split their recent four game series with Canisius College, 2-2. Also under the Bulldog win column are triumphs against the Big East’s Georgetown and University of Pittsburgh.
UNCA’s recent struggles have come on the road. Of their 11 games, they have only played on the home field four times, winning two of those games.
They have gone 2-5 away from Greenwood Field.
This past weekend, the Bulldogs faced Virginia Commonwealth University, University of Pittsburgh and The Citadel in the Bulldog Challenge. Though they lost two of the three games played, they did pull off an upset of the University of Pittsburgh.
After nine innings, UNCA and Pittsburgh were tied 4-4 and the game went into extra innings. In the bottom of the 10th inning, the Bulldogs had a man on first and third base. A wild pitch was thrown past the catcher, giving senior Todd Joyner the opportunity to steal home and give the Bulldogs a win.
UNCA faced Georgia State in Atlanta today. The score was not available before this article went to press. The Bulldogs will return home on Friday to host Temple University in a three game series at Greenwood Field.
It will not be until the third week of March that the Bulldogs finally see their first conference matchup when they play Longwood in a three game series on the road.
“We would like to continue the improvement and finish higher than fourth in the conference,” Smith said. “Also, we would all love a chance to play in a NCAA regional.”