COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - As the Tennessee Tech baseball team returns home from a five-game road swing, there is a slightly bigger picture to its three-game home series against Ohio Valley Conference opponent Eastern Illinois this weekend.
If the Golden Eagles win two-out-of-three against the Panthers, it will mark the team's 10th series victory in a row to start the 2013 season. While this year's squad already has the program record for consecutive series wins, hitting double-digits would make it just that more special. And with the way Tech team has been playing this year, its anybody's guess when the streak will meet its end.
Tech took down Big Ten opponent Illinois in two games to start the year, winning the second and third game by one run each. The Golden Eagles followed that up with two wins over the Purple Eagles of Niagara. Bowling Green came to town, and despite only playing two of the three scheduled contests due to weather, Tech still came out on top, taking two wins over the Falcons.
The Golden Eagles hit the road to open OVC play, winning games one and three at Eastern Kentucky. They returned home for a two-game set with Northern Kentucky, sweeping the Norse and starting a trend. Morehead State was the next victim for TTU, as Tech swept the Eagles as part of its 14-game winning streak. The team kept it going with a three-game sweep at UT Martin.
In Cookeville, Tech's winning streak came to an end, but not before the Golden Eagles grabbed the first two games against SIUE. And last weekend, the team overcame possibly its biggest obstacle of the season, winning two games at reigning OVC champion Austin Peay.
Senior ace Tristan Archer will look to grab the first win of the series on Friday, taking on Eastern Illinois righty Andrew Grahn. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. CDT. On Saturday, Cookeville native Ross Spurgeon will make his third start of the season, facing off against Joe Greenfield in a 2 p.m. tilt. Sophomore Jacob Honea will wrap up the series against Matt Borens in Sunday's 1 p.m. contest.
Fans can follow this weekend's game via live stats here. Both Friday's and Sunday's contests will be web streamed on the OVC Digital Network pending weather. Fans can watch the free video stream here.
SCOUTING THE EASTERN ILLINOIS PANTHERS
LAST FIVE GAMES FOR EASTERN ILLINOIS
Eastern Illinois is playing its best ball of the year right now, winning six in a row and doubling its win total from before the streak to 12. Included in those wins have been an impressive sweep of OVC opponent Murray State and a road win over Big Ten member Illinois.
As a team, the Panthers have been about average in the offense department, recording an average of .273 (7th OVC). EIU has collected 283 hits in 30 games this season, scoring 173 runs while driving in 153. The squad has 10 home runs, a slugging percentage of .356, and an on-base percentage of .354. Eastern Illinois has stolen 19 bases on the year as opposed to its opponents 36.
A look at the top five offensive weapons for the Panthers:
The EIU pitching staff has been very solid on the year, ranking third in the OVC in ERA with a 4.56 mark. In 258.2 innings, the Panthers have allowed 305 hits, 188 runs, 131 earned runs, and 140 walks. They have set down opponents on strikes 176 times while allowing opponents to hit .295 against them.
A look at this week's likely starter for Eastern Illinois:
CATCHING UP WITH TECH
LAST FIVE GAMES FOR THE GOLDEN EAGLES
East Tennessee State
The Tech squad returns home after a five-game stint on the road. The Golden Eagles finished 2-3 on the road trip, not a bad outcome considering the competition. Tech managed to snag a series sweep of Austin Peay, scoring 22 runs in its two wins over the Govs.
Tech ranks among the league's best offenses, leading the OVC in several categories including slugging percentage (.453), runs scored (221), RBI (208), home runs (32), total bases (501), walks (170), and sac flies (18). The Golden Eagles own a .288 batting average (second OVC), .397 on-base percentage (second), 319 hits (third), 64 doubles (second), 11 triples (second), 42 hit by pitches (third), and 43 stolen bases (third).
A look at the top five offensive weapons for the Golden Eagles:
The Golden Eagle pitching staff has been quite good this season as well, combining for a 4.58 ERA (fourth OVC) and six saves. The Tech pitchers lead the OVC in strikeouts with 296, over 30 more than second place Belmont. In 287 innings of work, Tech has allowed just 175 runs, third fewest in the league, while also holding opposing teams to a .274 average.
A look at this week's likely starter for Tennessee Tech: