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April 17, 2010

Eastern Illinois visits for important three-game OVC series this weekend

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Two teams looking to make some headway in the Ohio Valley Conference baseball race will meet head-to-head this weekend in Cookeville when Tennessee Tech hosts Eastern Illinois in a three-game league series.

The teams will play a doubleheader Saturday and a single game Sunday, with action starting at 1 p.m. each day in Bush Stadium at the Averitt Express Baseball Complex. Admission is free.

"These are two good baseball teams, so this is an important series," said Golden Eagle coach Matt BRagga, whose team has won its last two contests including a 15-3 home win Tuesday night over Belmont. Last Sunday, Tech beat league-leader Southeast Missouri in Cape Girardeau for its first OVC win of the season.

"We need to play as a team to win," Bragga said. "and we need to take care of the things that we can control."

Tech brings a 15-19 overall record into the weekend, incuding a 1-5 mark in the OVC. Last year, Tech opened conference play 1-7 but rebounded to qualify for the OVC Tournament, then swept to the tournament title.

"We still have a lot of baseball left to play, but we don't need to wait around," Bragga said. "We need to go out this weekend and play well.

Lefty Adam Liberatore will start in Saturday's opener and right-hander Lee Henry is slated for the second game. Liberatore is 3-4 with a 7.22 ERA while Henry is 1-3 with a 3.03 ERA. Sunday's starter has not been announced.

The Golden Eagles own a .332 team batting average with nine players above the .300 mark, including two topping the .400 plateau this season. Chad Oberacker leads the team with a .445 average while A.J. Kirby Jones is hitting .412 with 17 home runs and 53 RBI.

EIU is 9-22 overall with a 4.5 record in the OVC. The Panthers have a .272 batting average with three everyday players above the .300 mar. Zach Borenstein leads EIU with a .331 average, six home runs and 28 RBI. Alex Gee is second on the team at .316 while Curt Restko is hitting .311.

The Panthers will send three right-handers to the hill, beginning with Mike Recchia (3-3, 4.94 ERA). Mike Hoekstra (3-1, 3.06 ERA), who was named the OVC co-Pitcher of the Week, will start Saturday's second game. On Sunday, EIU will start Josh Mueller (0-1, 5.18 ERA).