COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – With an even .500 record in conference play (3-3), the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles will look to improve their record in a three-game road series against the Panthers of Eastern Illinois this weekend. The two teams will play in a double-header match-up on Saturday in Charleston, capping off play on Sunday with an afternoon finale game.
Tech started this week’s road circuit with a trip to Murfreesboro, where they walked away with a one-run loss to the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee. They’ll be looking to bounce back from that and up their 13-18 overall mark with this weekend’s series.
The Golden Eagles have six men batting .300 or better in the order, and are still led by Evan Frazier with his .383 mark in 81 at-bats. Frazier has brought in 19 RBI on the season for Tech and is slugging a team-high .617 in 22 games played.
Behind Frazier are Zach Stephens and Chad Oberacker, who broke .300 with his 2-for-5 effort at MTSU for the first time this season. Oberacker leads the team with 33 RBI and seven long-balls in a team-high 130 at-bats. Stephens, a freshman power-hitter, is hitting at .326 in the clean-up spot, leads the team with 74 total bases and has chipped in with 31 RBI thus far this year in his 31 games played.
Taking the hill for Tech in Saturday’s 1 p.m. contest will be sophomore Tristan Archer. A regular righty on the weekends, Archer will be making his eighth start of the year and 10th appearance overall. He currently leads Tech in innings pitched, having recorded a 4-3 record with 35 Ks in 45.2 innings of work.
Matt Shepherd will be the go-to guy in game two. Tech’s current stud pitcher, Shepherd leads the Golden Eagle pitching staff with a 3.80 ERA in 45 innings of work, having notched 42 strikeouts en route to a 2-3 record on the year.
Sunday’s starting pitcher for both EIU and Tech have yet to be determined.
Eastern Illinois will present challenges for the Golden Eagle bullpen in the form of four returning upperclassmen leading their line-up with averages over .300. Zach Borenstein heads the Panther attack with a team-high 44 hits in 124 at bats for a .355 average in 30 games. Shawn Ferguson follows with a .346 mark in 78 at-bats, while T.J. McManus and Cam Strang are each batting .325.
Ben Thoma, a fifth returnee for EIU, has notched a .260 average at the dish but leads the team with 25 RBI on the season on their way to an 11-19 overall record, 5-3 in conference action.
Mike Hoekstra will pitch game one for the Panthers, while fellow right-hander Luke Bushur will man game two. Hoekstra has a 5.73 ERA in 48.2 innings pitched with a 4-2 record, while Bushur’s 32.1 innings pitched have yielded a 5.85 earned run average and an even 3-3 record.
Fan’s who won’t be able to make it to Charleston for this weekend’s series can follow the LiveStats here, courtesy of Eastern Illinois. The game will also be broadcast on "The Odessey," EIU's student radio station.