By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – With huge Ohio Valley Conference tournament implications hanging in the balance, the Tennessee Tech baseball team (29-10, 11-7) will welcome league foe Jacksonville State (21-14, 11-4) to Cookeville for a three-game series beginning Thursday with a 6 p.m. CT tilt.
The series marks the first time the second-place Gamecocks will visit Bush Stadium in over two years. The Golden Eagles will look to upend Jacksonville State after last seasons' series loss in Jacksonville, the only OVC series the Tech squad lost all year.
The Golden Eagles enter having won four of their last five games, including a 7-1 victory over Alabama A&M Tuesday evening. Tech won two games over the weekend over league opponent Eastern Illinois, grabbing the bookends of the three-game set in Charleston.
Jacksonville State took two-of-three from Murray State in its most recent series, also defeating the league opponent with bookend victories. The series marked the first for the Gamecocks in OVC play after a bye week that saw them fall twice in a three-game set at New Mexico.
TENNESSEE TECH (29-10, 11-7) vs. JACKSONVILLE STATE (21-14, 11-4)
Thursday, Apr. 17 /
Friday, Apr. 18 /
Saturday, Apr. 19
Bush Stadium at the Averitt Express Baseball Complex (1,100) – Cookeville, Tenn.
FOLLOWING THE ACTION
Webcast: Golden Eagle Sports Network on the OVC Digital Network (Dylan Vazzano)
Live Stats: ttusports.com
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
• Two more records fell at the hands of senior Zach Stephens Tuesday evening, as the slugger literally crushed the OVC career marks for both home runs (now 54) and RBI (now 211) with one swing of the bat. His three-run drive to center field in the bottom of the eighth inning broke both 33-year-old records and marked part of a 4-for-5 day at the plate. Stephens is batting .452 with four home runs and 13 RBI over his last seven games, leading Tech to a 5-2 mark over that span thanks to a .935 slugging percentage.
• 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 .417 with seven home runs, 12 doubles, 36 RBI, 49 runs scored, a .649 slugging percentage, and a .522 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 been a force in right field for the Golden Eagles. He has clobbered 11 home runs, four triples, and 13 doubles while maintaining a .665 slugging percentage and driving in 45 runs.
• Conference play has brought out the beast in center fielder Jake Rowland this season, as the redshirt sophomore owns a .403 batting average against league opponents, the second highest mark on the team (Miles is batting .440 against OVC foes). Rowland has driven in 15 runs while scoring 19 more in 18 OVC games. He has stolen three bases and drawn 11 walks while playing a perfect center field with no errors.
TENNESSEE TECH'S PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
Thursday: David Hess (RHP), JR, 6-1, 205
6-2, 2.47 ERA, 58.1 IP, 53 K, 13 BB
Friday: Chris Chism (RHP), JR, 6-1, 205
4-1, 4.50 ERA, 38.0 IP, 30 K, 11 BB
Saturday: Evan Fraliex (RHP), FR, 6-2, 220
2-0, 3.75 ERA, 36.0 IP, 26 K, 12 BB
JACKSONVILLE STATE'S PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
Thursday: Adam Polk (LHP), SR, 6-3, 190
4-1, 3.53 ERA, 43.1 IP, 36 K, 15 BB
Friday: Zachary Fowler (RHP), JR, 6-3, 230
4-3, 3.62 ERA, 49.2 IP, 37 K, 21 BB
Saturday: Taylor Shields (RHP), SR, 6-0, 175
4-3, 4.11 ERA, 50.1 IP, 32 K, 18 BB