January 31, 2012

Saints Baseball to Open Season at Comfort Suites Classic

Contact David Beall, jdbeall@northgeorgia.edu

DAHLONEGA, GA – The North Georgia baseball team is set to open the 2012 season this weekend, traveling to Valdosta State University for the Comfort Suites Classic at Billy Grant Field.

Ranked No. 35 in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Division II top 40 Poll and picked to finish 6th in the Peach Belt Conference, the Saints will open the 2012 campaign with seven straight road games, three of which will be on the campus of Valdosta State University this weekend.

North Georgia will open the three-game weekend tournament on Friday evening at 6:00 p.m. with Saint Leo. The Lions are coming off a 19-30 season a year ago and a 7th place finish in the Sunshine State Conference. Head Coach Russ McNickle enters his fourth year at the helm of the Lions and returns 25 letter winners as Saint Leo looks to return to the National Tournament for the seventh time overall and first since 2001.

The Saints will take on tournament host Valdosta State on Saturday afternoon at 5:00 p.m., as the two squads will meet for the second time in as many years. The Blazers traveled to Dahlonega last season and broke out the bats with a 15-6 victory at Bob Stein Stadium behind five home runs and seven extra base hits. VSU returns their top two hitters from a team that finished 22-27 overall and in third place in the Gulf Coast Conference East Division.

Head coach Tom Cantrell's squad will wrap up the weekend on Sunday morning with a 10:30 a.m. first pitch against Lindenwood University. The Lions are embarking on their first season at the NCAA Division II level in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association after making the transition from NAIA. Lindenwood finished the 2011 campaign with a 33-23 overall record and return 10-game winner Zac Pearman who fired five complete games a year ago.

The Saints will look to veteran pitcher and ABCA Preseason All-American Blake Hobby to put North Georgia in the win column off the mound, while the bats of Jordan Erisman, Derek Hooper and Kenny Bellavance will need to stay hot for North Georgia to be successful in 2012.

Follow North Georgia the entire weekend at SaintsSports.com with live statistics of every pitch, games photos and post game recaps. Fans can sign up to receive text alerts sent directly to a mobile device or email after the final out of every game by clicking here.

2012 Comfort Suites Classic Schedule

Friday, February 3

2:30 p.m. – Valdosta State vs. Lindenwood

6:00 p.m. – Saint Leo vs. North Georgia

Saturday, February 4

Noon – Saint Leo vs. Lindenwood

5:00 p.m. – Valdosta State vs. North Georgia

Sunday, February 5

10:30 a.m. – North Georgia vs. Lindenwood

2:00 p.m. – Valdosta State vs. Saint Leo