COOKEVILLE, Tenn. --- With just four more Ohio Valley Conference series left in the regular season, the Tennessee Tech baseball team will look to increase its lead in the standings over Eastern Illinois as it hosts the Panthers in a three-game series this weekend.
Game one of the series is set for Friday at 6 p.m., with game two scheduled for Saturday at 2 p.m. and game three slated for Sunday at 1 p.m.
Tech (17-23, 7-8 OVC) currently sits one win ahead of EIU (16-23, 6-8 OVC) for sixth place in the overall standings and the No. 5 spot in the OVC Tournament due to SIU Edwardsville being ineligible to compete in postseason play this season.
The Golden Eagles trail EIU in their all-time series with a 21-30 record. Last season, Tech won two of the three meetings against the Panthers, both of which came via 3-2 victories. Zach Stephens and Chad Hayes each drove in two runs in TTU's two wins.
Stephens still ranks among the nation's best in several categories including home runs where he ranks third with 16. He also leads the team with a .425 batting average and has driven in a team-high 45 RBIs.
Six other Golden Eagles have driven in at least 21 runs on the season, including the middle infield tandem of Hayes and Dylan Bosheers. Hayes has moved up to second on the team in RBIs with 29, while Bosheers follows close behind with 27.
Eastern Illinois has won two of its last three games, including a 7-6 win over Benedictine in its last outing. The Panthers have struggled in OVC play recently, having lost its last two series with Morehead State and Eastern Kentucky.
T.J. McManus leads the Panther offense with six home runs and 23 RBIs, while Ryan Dineen has scored a team-high 20 runs and has stolen a team-leading 12 bases.
EIU: RHP Mike Hoekstra – 2-3, 2.41 ERA, 71.0 IP, 67 H, 60 SO, 15 BB, 31 R, 19 ER
Tech: RHP Tristan Archer – 3-3, 4.84 ERA, 61.1 IP, 67 H, 47 SO, 24 BB, 35 R, 33 ER
EIU: LHP Christian Slazinik – 4-5, 3.53 ERA, 58.2 IP, 52 H, 45 SO, 25 BB, 31 R, 23 ER
Tech: RHP Matthew Shepherd - 4-2, 5.40 ERA, 51.2 IP, 60 H, 42 SO, 26 BB, 36 R, 31 ER
EIU: RHP Troy Barton – 5-4, 3.00 ERA, 45.0 IP, 37 H, 32 SO, 21 BB, 17 R, 15 ER
Tech: RHP David Hess – 2-4, 6.07 ERA, 46.0 IP, 55 H, 39 SO, 18 BB, 36 R, 31 ER