By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – It's the first mid-week action of the year as the Tenenssee Tech baseball team (2-1) heads west for a fierce, in-state battle against rival Middle Tennessee (1-2) Tuesday afternoon.
With a 3 p.m. start, Tech will look to avenge last year's results as Middle Tennessee claimed both games last season, overcoming six-run deficits on both occasions. Tech enters with the better record at 2-1 overall after defeating South Alabama in a three-game series over the weekend.
TENNESSEE TECH (2-1) @ MIDDLE TENNESSEE (1-2)
Thursday, Feb. 18
Reese Smith Jr. Field (2,100) – Murfreesboro, Tenn.
SETTING THE STAGE
Middle Tennessee owns the advantage in a long-standing rivalry, claiming both games between the two programs last season.
The Blue Raiders rallied in both games, overcoming two, six-run deficits to win in Cookeville, 9-7, and in Murfreesboro, 12-9.
The Golden Eagles enter this season's first match-up with the Blue Raiders with a 2-1 record after winning a big road series over South Alabama this past weekend. Middle Tennessee sports a 1-2 record, losing to Kennesaw State twice over the weekend.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET
As the saying goes, history has a way of repeating itself. Unfortunately for the Tennessee Tech baseball team, that's precisely what occurred Tuesday evening as the Golden Eagles fell to the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders 12-9.
Just six weeks after losing a 7-1 lead to the Blue Raiders in Cookeville in what turned into a 9-7 loss, the Golden Eagles found themselves in an eerily similar position in Murfreesboro. Through four and half innings, Tech looked comfortable with a 7-1 lead and ready to take down the Blue Raiders for the first time in nine games. Middle Tennessee proved unwilling to allow that to happen on its home turf, however, rallying for the second time this season to take the contest 12-9.
Earning the win for the Blue Raiders was relief pitcher Heath Slatton (1-1), who pitched 2.2 innings while allowing three hits, one earned run, and one walk. He struck out four Tech batters. First baseman Trent Miller led the comeback attempt for Middle Tennessee, recording four RBI on a 3-for-5 day at the plate. Catcher Michael Adkins drove in the eventual game-winning run, grabbing an infield single in the bottom of the sixth.
Three Tech players recorded multi-hit days including lead-off man Zach Zarzour, center fielder Austin Wulf, and first baseman Zach Stephens. Zarzour scored three runs in the contest, grabbing two hits and a walk to set up the RBI attempts for his teammates. Stephens led the Golden Eagles with four RBI, ripping two two-run singles. The junior also walked once in the game as well.
Sophomore David Hess (3-2) was handed the loss, giving up three runs in 1.1 innings of relief work for starter Garrett Baugh. Baugh cruised through the first four innings, allowing just one run. The Blue Raider bats found another gear, however, smacking Baugh for six more runs in the fifth inning to tie the game at 7-7.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
After falling twice to the Blue Raiders last season, it's fair to say that the Golden Eagles will head into Tuesday's contest with a bit of a chip on their shoulders, looking to wrap up some unfinished business.
• Freshman right-hander Evan Fraliex will garner his first career start after tossing an inning of relief over the weekend. He will match up against Blue Raider lefty Nathan Foriest, making his first appearance of the year.
• Closer Seth Lucio has already broken the program record for career saves this season, clinching his 13th in Friday's win over South Alabama. He has two saves on the year and 14 for his short career as the last defense for Tech. Last season was his first in the closer role after spending his freshman campaign as a weekday starter.
• Junior David Allen has had a long and difficult path to becoming a starter for the Tech squad, redshirting each of his first two seasons and playing sparingly as a reserve last year. The starting left fielder had a solid opening weekend, batting .300 and slugging .400 with two runs scored, two RBI, and two walks.
• Senior Daniel Miles opened the season with a strong showing in Mobile, Ala., batting .385, slugging .462, and recording an on-base percentage of .500 while scoring three runs. Fans can look for the third baseman to start raking in some runs after failing to record an RBI over the weekend.
• The weather looks promising for game day with a high of 64° and light wind expected with no rain.
Here's a look at the pitching match-ups between Tech and South Alabama:
TENNESSEE TECH GOLDEN EAGLES - STARTING PITCHER
||Hometown (Previous School)|
||Evan Fraliex||Fr.||6-2||220||Lexington, Ky. (Lexington Catholic HS)
MIDDLE TENNESSEE BLUE RAIDERS - STARTING PITCHER
||Hometown (Previous School)|
||Kingston Springs, Tenn. (Harpeth HS)