WINCHESTER, Va. - The USA South Conference baseball regular season championship will be decided this weekend in Winchester as No. 12/18 Shenandoah plays host to No. 3/3 Christopher Newport University for a Friday-Saturday two-game set.
Shenandoah trails the Captains by one game in the standings and needs to sweep CNU to claim its second straight regular season title.
The two teams have met 12 times in the past three years with SU holding a slight 7-5 advantage. Christopher Newport took three of the four matchups last season including a pair in the USA South Conference Tournament.
H-SC enters tonight's game with a 9-17 record.
Senior Jake Pendergraft, who leads the USA South Conference with a .465 batting average, paces an SU probable lineup that is hitting a collective .327 with 23 home runs and 185 RBI.
In the past three games, Pendergraft has eight hits in 14 at-bats (.571) with nine RBI and one HR.
Pendergraft is one of seven Shenandoah players in the starting lineup with at least a .295 batting average. Designated hitter Nick Beall backs up Pendergraft with a .400 average.
On the mound, Coach Kevin Anderson will again look to junior Vince Claudio and senior Cory Nelson as his weekend starters. In their last starts (two weekends ago against Methodist), Claudio went 8.0 innings and gave up five hits and two unearned runs in a no-decision while Nelson threw a complete game four-hitter in a winning effort.
Claudio, who defeated CNU last season, has 4-0 record with a 2.13 ERA in 42 1/3 innings pitched this spring.
Nelson is 3-3 with a team-best 1.85 ERA in 48.2 innings pitched. In conference games, Nelson had 28 strikeouts against just nine walks in 43 2/3 innings pitched.
CNU, the pre-season league favorite, has won seven straight after downing local rival Apprentice 5-3 on Wednesday. The Captains are on the road at Randolph-Macon this afternoon.
Christopher Newport hits .295 as a team with designated hitter Chris McDougal leading the probable starting lineup with a .410 average. Centerfielder Shannon Mark, the leadoff hitter, is hitting .402 while leftfielder Connor Madden is the only other starter above .300.
Madden his hitting .311 with nine extra base hits and a team-best 29 RBI.
Coach John Harvell will hand the ball to right-handers Greg Goldsmith on Friday and Jacob Vaughan on Saturday. The duo has a combined record of 8-1 and lead a pitching staff that boasts a 2.51 ERA.
Goldsmith is 4-1 with a 1.50 ERA and two complete games in seven starts while Vaughan is 4-0 with a 2.48 ERA in 32 2/3 innings pitched over six appearances.
Out of the pen, CNU turns to Ryan Fleischmann and his 2-1 record in 16 appearances. Fleischmann also has six saves and 28 strikeouts in that time.
--story assistance from Matt Carpenter '12