Maroons picked 2nd in ODAC baseball, open with two wins in three games

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The Roanoke College Baseball team has been picked in a tie for second in the annual Old Dominion Athletic Conference Preseason Poll.

Parity dominates the annual poll with four of the top-five teams earning first place consideration in the annual survey of the league’s head coaches. Randolph-Macon College leads the table with 114 points powered by seven first place votes. Reigning back-to-back ODAC champion Shenandoah University is tied with RC for second with 100 points. Virginia Wesleyan University and the University of Lynchburg share the remaining two top nods and rank fourth and fifth, respectively, with 98 and 83 markers.

The Maroons finished 2019 with 21 overall wins, including a 16-6 mark against league opponents. Back in the mix for head coach Matt McGuire is First-Team All-ODAC reliever Kevin Ledford and first-team outfielder Will Smith.

An All-Region choice by D3baseball.com, Ledford made 16 appearances out of the bullpen for the Maroons. He had a 4-1 overall record in addition to five saves which was second most in the ODAC. He struck out 39 batters in 36.1 innings of work. Opponents hit just .156 against Ledford for the year and he surrendered just three extra-base hits total. Ledford had a 1.50 ERA as he gave up just six earned runs all season.

Smith played in 38 games for the Maroons in 2019. He hit .285 with three home runs and 19 RBI. In league play he .320 with a pair of home runs and 15 RBI. Smith had 43 hits on the season, including 31 against ODAC opponents.

The first weekend of the ODAC Tournament will be played at the top four seeds on May 1-3. The four advancing squads will head to Salem, Va., and Haley Toyota Field at Salem Memorial Ballpark for double-elimination play on May 8-9.

The Maroons opened the season by winning two of three games at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia last weekend. Roanoke won the season opener Saturday, 9-6. Hunter Andrews and Will Merriken each had three RBI. Ledford struck out the side for Roanoke in the bottom of the ninth inning to seal the win. The right-hander went two innings and struck out five to pick up the save. Chris Dudley tossed three innings out of the bullpen to pick up the win.

On Saturday the Maroons won the first game, 4-3. Ryan Cloude got the win for the Maroons out of the bullpen after going three innings and giving up just one hit. Ledford earned his second save in as many days by getting the final three outs, including two strikeouts.

Roanoke lost the nightcap, 6-2.

The Maroons are in Newport News this weekend for two games with Piedmont College and one with Christopher Newport.