By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – After a long trip back from Charleston, Ill., the Tennessee Tech baseball team (28-10) returns home for a non-conference tilt before jumping back into its Ohio Valley Conference schedule, hosting Alabama A&M (17-20) in a single game Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. at Bush Stadium.
The two squads faced off earlier this season in Huntsville, Ala., as the Golden Eagles defeated the Bulldogs in a back-and-forth contest, ultimately winning 5-2. Tech has one each of the past three games against Alabama A&M, sweeping the season series one year ago.
The Golden Eagles come into the contest after winning two-of-three over OVC opponent Eastern Illinois, capping the weekend with an 8-3 victory over the Panthers to move to 28-10 on the season. In non-conference play, the Tech squad is an impressive 17-3, falling on the road to South Alabama and No. 8 Vanderbilt, and at home to No. 21 Tennessee.
The Bulldogs also enter the game with momentum on their side, coming off a three-game sweep of Jackson State over the weekend. Alabama A&M has won seven of its past eight contests since last playing the Golden Eagles, the last loss coming on the road against Troy.
TENNESSEE TECH (28-10) vs. ALABAMA A&M (17-20)
Tuesday, Apr. 15
Bush Stadium at the Averitt Express Baseball Complex (1,100) – Cookeville, Tenn.
FOLLOWING THE ACTION
Live Stats: ttusports.com
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
• With one swing of the bat senior slugger Zach Stephens made more noise in terms of breaking records over the weekend. On Friday against Eastern Illinois the first baseman hammered a three-run shot to left field, breaking Tech's all-time hits record and tying the Ohio Valley Conference career mark for home runs. He also pulled within two of breaking the OVC's all-time RBI record. In 201 career games, Stephens has 258 hits, 53 home runs, and 207 RBI.
• Last week senior Daniel Miles earned national recognition for what has been a huge season thus far, being named to the midseason USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award watch list. He has done plenty to back up the honor, batting .412 with seven home runs, 11 doubles, 34 RBI, 49 runs scored, a .642 slugging percentage, and a .514 on base percentage.
• One of the nation's top power hitters (he ranks in the top five in the NCAA in home runs, total bases, and RBI), senior Brandon Thomasson has played especially well against non-conference opponents this year. The right fielder owns a .382 batting average outside of league play, torching seven of his 11 long balls on the season in 19 games away from the OVC. He has also put up 28 of his 45 RBI in that span, slugging a mean .816 thanks to six doubles, three triples, and the seven round-trippers.
• Speaking of players who have been nuts against non-conference opponents, second baseman Zach Zarzour has owned opposing pitchers in 19 games out of the OVC this season. He leads Tech in that span with a .443 batting average out of the leadoff position. The senior also has a .545 on base percentage in non-conference play, thanks to 31 hits, 12 walks, and five hit by pitches. He has four of his five steals on the year away from the league as well.
TENNESSEE TECH'S PROBABLE STARTING PITCHER
Tuesday: Evan Fraliex (RHP), FR, 6-2, 205
1-0, 4.09 ERA, 33.0 IP, 23 K, 10 BB