Former Evans Baseball Star Mike Armstrong emerged last season as one of the premier young catchers in college baseball. After battling into the start of the season just to get a starting position, Armstrong slowly proved he not only deserved a starting spot, but he was worthy of even bigger accolades.
He finished the season hitting .368 with nine homers and 30 RBI. Along the way he helped lead Mercer to victories over both Florida and Clemson, when the two were ranked No. 1 in the country. He was also a key reason the Bears were able to finish second in the tough Atlantic Sun Conference.
His efforts did not go unnoticed. He earned First Team All-Conference honors. Also, his solid play, combined with a 3.9 GPA in Medical Engineering, earned him a spot on the National Academic All-American Team.
Armstrong was dubbed a Preseason All-Conference performer by virtually every baseball publication on the planet. And so far this season he and the Bears have not disappointed. They opened the 2007 season with a three game series vs. the University of Miami. The Hurricanes were ranked No. 2 in the nation, but had their hands full with Mercer. The Bears won the first two games 6-5 and 8-5; game three was rained out.
A two-game sweep over the No. 2 team in the country is not a bad way to start the season. Armstrong was sensational in the games, going 4-8 with a homer and 5 RBI.
Keep up the good work, Mike.
USC Aiken has high hopes in 2007
The USC Aiken baseball program has been outstanding over the past few years. One of the main reasons for their success has been the play of several Columbia County players.
The 2007 Pacers have several county products who will be counted on if the Pacers want to keep up their strong play. Last season the Pacers finished 45-19 and advanced to the NCAA South Atlantic Regional for a second straight year. However, gone from that team is the Pacers' top hitter, Robert Davis (Greenbrier) and top pitcher, Nick Wandless (Greenbrier). Wandless was a First Team National All-American a year ago and was the premier closer in the country.
The cupboard is not bare in 2007, though, as 23 letter-winners return. USC Aiken comes into 2007 ranked No. 22 in the nation according to Collegiate Baseball. One of the main reasons for the high ranking is the return of Greenbrier product Scott Wandless. The 6-0, 205- pound junior was 10-1 on the mound in 2006 with an ERA of 2.39 in just 12 starts.
Wandless is joined by his former Greenbrier teammate, Ben Tankersley (5-7, 155 lb. senior) who will play second base.
Also, former Evans slugger Ken Raborn will start at third base. The 5-10 180-pound sophomore played his high school ball at Evans. And former Lakeside standout Dustin Tyra (6-4, 220- pound junior) has transferred in this season and will work out of the Pacers' bullpen.
The Pacers opened 2007 taking two of three games from Lincoln Memorial.
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