March 29, 2010

Baseball Moves on Up, Ranked 12th in Latest Poll

Complete Poll

DAHLONEGA, GA – The North Georgia baseball team continues their rise up the polls as the Saints moved up four slots to No. 12 in the latest Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Division II Top 30 poll released on Monday afternoon.

The Saints are ranked in the their fifth consecutive Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Top 30 poll, moving up inside the top 15 for the first time this season. North Georgia is currently 22-9 on the year, having won five of their last six games, including another weekend series victory over a PBC opponent.

The Saints battled Lander University over the weekend and dropped their first series-opener of the year on Friday evening, but head coach Tom Cantrell’s squad rebounded on Saturday with a convincing doubleheader sweep over the Bearcats to take another league series as the Saints improved to 11-4 in conference play, a mark that puts North Georgia tied for the Peach Belt lead in wins.

An unprecedented seven Peach Belt Conference schools are represented in the latest poll, more than any other league in the nation for the third straight week. Columbus State moved up a spot to No. 8, while USC Aiken rounds out the top 10, followed by North Georgia at No. 12. Francis Marion and GCSU fall in at No. 14 and No. 16 respectively, while UNC Pembroke is not far behind at No. 17, and Georgia Southwestern make an appearance in their first-ever poll as the Hurricanes are in a six-way tie for the 30th and final spot in the ranking.

Kenny Bellavance paced North Georgia last week at the plate, hitting .500 in four games with nine hits, three runs scored, and three runs batted in as the freshman led the Saints to three wins and another weekend Peach Belt Conference series victory. He drove in a run in each of the final two games against Lander and currently sits at 18 runs batted in for the year, while raising his season average to .361 with four doubles and 27 runs scored. He is six-of-seven in stolen base attempts this season and has a fielding percentage of .986 patrolling the outfield for the Saints.

Blake Hobby gave the pitching staff a lift on Saturday with his first complete-game of the season in the middle game of a three-game set with Lander, going all 9.0 innings and allowing three runs on six hits, while striking out a season-high 10 batters and walking two. He blazed through the first inning against the Bearcats, striking out the side on his way to a 10-strikeout performance. Opponents are hitting .271 against the right-hander this season as Hobby has recorded 34 strikeouts in 48.2 innings of work.

North Georgia returns to action on Tuesday evening, playing host to Anderson University with first pitch set for 6:00 p.m. at Bob Stein Stadium. The Saints broke out the bats earlier this season against the Trojans on the road, pounding Anderson 16-7 in South Carolina.

The Saints will then have their work cutout for them over the weekend with a three-game series at 8th-ranked Columbus State, as the Saints and Cougars battle in a Peach Belt Conference west division rivalry.