UNION COUNTY — The USC Union Bantams club baseball team begins play in conference playoffs today in Martinsville, Va.
Three weeks ago, the USC Union Bantams clinched the District III West Division title after a series against Furman, securing their spot in the conference playoffs.
Last weekend, the Bantams won two out of three games in a series against Methodist University, which Coach Paul Wilkes said was good preparation for this weekend’s playoff tournament. Wilkes said the key players of last weekend’s series were Keiston Bishop — who was 5-8 at the plate with one RBI, three runs scored and five stolen bases — and Mike Wood — who was 4-7 at the plate with two RBIs, three runs scored, and four stolen bases.
“I was very glad to see Keiston and Mike’s bats come alive last weekend,” Wilkes said. “I’m confident that we have a chance to score when both of these guys get on base. When they get on, they are stealing second and third.”
Bishop is tied for third place nationally for the most stolen bases with 14, and Wood is tied for sixth place nationally with 11.
Wilkes said he feels his team is prepared and ready for this weekend’s conference playoffs. The Bantams play UNC Wilmington at 4 p.m. today at Hooker Field in Martinsville, Va. The playoff bracket consists of No. 1 seed William and Mary, No. 2 seed USC Union, No. 3 seed UNC Wilmington, and No. 4 seed Old Dominion. The tournament is double elimination, with the winner moving on to the NCBA World Series, which will be held May 16-20 in Paducah, Ky.
Christian Smith, Vice President of NCBA Operations, picked the Bantams as his favorite to win the NCBA National Championship before the season began.
“A lot of new teams came on board this year and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a postseason berth or even World Series appearance by a first-year program like LSU or Notre Dame,” Smith said in the pre-season. “If I had to pick, I’d take USC Union to win it all.”
Wilkes said he spoke with Smith last Sunday to finalize playoff details.
“He told me, ‘You know you guys have been my pick from day one; don’t let me down,’” Wilkes said.