Golden Eagle baseball team primed for meeting with No. 2 Vanderbilt
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - It's easy to get lost in the offensive numbers the Tennessee Tech baseball team puts up every week. It's easy to be mesmorized by the pitching staff's ability to strike out opposing batters. What most people don't realize is that perhaps the most important factor to the Golden Eagles' impressive start is a relentless defense that is on pace for its best numbers in program history.
Through 36 games this season, the Golden Eagles own a .977 fielding percentage, on pace to shatter the current program single-season record of .969 set in 2008. All eight of Tech's regular positional starters own fielding percentages of .958 or better.
The defense will be relied on heavily in Tuesday's contest as the Golden Eagles will travel to Nashville to take on No. 2 Vanderbilt, one of the most complete teams in the nation. The Commodores have lost just twice at home all season, a February contest against a respectable Long Beach State team and a conference match-up with Florida.
Pitching for the Golden Eagles in Tuesday's 6:30 p.m. CDT contest will be junior Garrett Baugh (3-1). On the hill for Vanderbilt will be Tyler Ferguson (3-0).
SCOUTING THE VANDERBILT COMMODORES
LAST FIVE GAMES FOR
||No. 17 Ole Miss*||W (11)
There's good reason that Vanderbilt has been ranked in the top three in the nation all season. They hit for average, they score a ton of runs, and they boast one of the top pitching staffs in the country. Put all of that together and you get a team that is 33-4 on the year with a program record 14-1 start in the SEC.
The Commodores ride a 14-game winning streak heading into Tuesday night's match-up, using a high-octane offense to gather a majority of those wins. Vandy has scored at least 10 runs in each of its previous four outings, combining to outscore its opponents 49-13.
Vanderbilt bats an incredible .312 as a team, collecting 380 hits already this season. The squad has driven in 248 of its 276 runs scored and have popped 19 dingers and 72 doubles. The team is very quick on the basepaths, having already swept 86 bases in 2013. The defense is also quite good, posting a .976 fielding percentage.
A look at the top seven offensive weapons for the Commodores:
The pitching staff for Vanderbilt has been one of the best in the nation all season long, posting a top 10 ERA (2.46). The pitchers have combined to strike out nearly a batter per innings, setting down 308 on strikes in 325 innings.
A look at this week's likely starter for Vanderbilt:
CATCHING UP WITH TECH
LAST FIVE GAMES FOR
|April 9||Away||Middle Tennessee||L||12-9|
|April 12||Home||Eastern Illinois*||W||20-5|
|April 13||Home||Eastern Illinois*||W||5-2|
|April 14||Home||Eastern Illinois*||W||6-5|
The Golden Eagles will hit the road after a brief, three-game stint at home that included a three-game sweep of Ohio Valley Conference opponent Eastern Illinois. The Tech club now sits at 26-10 overall and is off to its best league start in school history, achieving a 15-3 mark in OVC play.
Tech has proven to be the cream of the crop of the OVC in terms of offensive output, ranking in the top three in nearly every offensive category. The Golden Eagles are batting .298 as a team, scoring 252 runs and driving in 238 of them. They have collected 363 hits, including 77 doubles and 35 home runs.
A look at the top seven offensive weapons for the Golden Eagles:
The Tech pitching staff has played its fair share into the hot start for the Golden Eagles, combining for a 4.53 ERA. In 314 innings of work, Tech pitchers have allowed 158 earned runs, 187 total runs and 145 walks while striking out 321 batters.
A look at this week's likely starter for Tennessee Tech: