BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. – The Gardner-Webb baseball team opens the 2017 season on Friday evening, as the Runnin' Bulldogs host Canisius in the first of a four-game series at 4:00 pm at John Henry Moss Stadium.
Gardner-Webb returns a host of offensive talent from the 2016 squad, as seven players that saw regular playing time are back in 2017.
Leading the way is senior Collin Thacker, who went .394 at the plate in 2016 with 86 hits, 46 runs scored, 46 RBI, a NCAA-best 28 doubles, and four home runs. Thacker was named the 2017 Big South Conference Preseason Player of the Year, as well as a 2017 Preseason All-American by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.
Senior Danny Sullivan returns after batting .348 in 2016 with 77 hits, 43 runs scored, 35 RBI, 13 doubles, two triples, and a team-best nine home runs.
Other leading returners include seniors Paul Trick (.260 BA, 13 2B, 3 HR) and Matt Simmons (.254 BA, 6 2B, 2 HR), as well as sophomores Justin Kunz (.333 BA, 11 2B, 6 HR), Mason Fox (.274 BA, 9 2B, 2 HR) and Chandler Redmond (.232 BA, 4 2B, 2 HR).
A handful of new faces will be starting on the mound for the Diamond 'Dogs, as the weekend rotation from the end of 2016 were all selected in the 2016 MLB Draft.
Moving into the rotation will be redshirt junior Wil Sellers, who was the team's primary closer in 2016. Last season, Sellers posted a 3.33 ERA in 51.1 innings, fanning 52 batters while earning a team-record 12 saves.
Junior Bradley Hallman, who was part of the 2016 rotation for the first half of the season, returns with a 5.02 ERA in 66.1 innings pitched with 43 strikeouts, posting 5-5 record on the year.
Gardner-Webb will host Canisius for four matchups this weekend, beginning Friday at 4:00 pm. The two teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon beginning at noon before wrapping up the series on Sunday afternoon at 1:00 pm.
Friday, 4:00 pm – RHP Wil Sellers vs. Zach Sloan
Saturday, 12:00 pm – LHP Isaac Campbell vs. J.P. Stevenson
Saturday, 4:00 pm – RHP Zach Mosay vs. Nolan Hunt
Sunday, 1:00 pm – RHP Bradley Hallman vs. TBD
Sunday's game will be broadcast on the Big South Network, which is free and available on any device.
For more information on this weekend's game or throughout the season, be sure to follow the Diamond 'Dogs on Twitter at @GWUBaseball