By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Arguably the most anticipated series match-up in the Ohio Valley Conference this season, first place Southeast Missouri will finally make the trip to Cookeville as the second place Tennessee Tech baseball team will host the Redhawks in a three-game set beginning Friday.
Sunday's contest will mark the Tech squad's Senior Day, with eight members of the team being honored for their time and commitment to the Golden Eagle baseball program.
The entire series will play a huge role in deciding this year's OVC regular season champion. Simply put, the Golden Eagles must sweep the Redhawks to keep their title hopes alive. If Tech manages to pull of the sweep, then the team can tie for the championship with two wins at Belmont the next weekend or win the title outright with three wins against the Bruins.
Southeast Missouri enters the series having lost just one conference series all year, falling to Morehead State twice on its own field back in March. The Redhawks took two of three games from Murray State last weekend, falling in the final contest on Sunday, 11-6. The series marks the final of league play for SEMO, which will play a non-conference series at IPFW next week to wrap up its season.
The Golden Eagles come into the three-game set after taking two of three games from Lipscomb during their OVC bye week. Tech was especially impressive Sunday afternoon, controlling the contest for an easy 15-2 win.
The match-up pits the top two scoring offenses in the OVC against each other. Tech leads the league in batting average (.316), slugging percentage (.497), on base percentage (.415), runs scored (409), hits (552), RBI (374), doubles (101), home runs (65) and walks (266).
SEMO ranks second in average (.307), fourth in slugging (.423), second in on base percentage (.391), second in runs (338), third in hits (506), second in RBI (299), third in walks (201), first in sac bunts (37), first in sac flies (37), and first in stolen bases (82).
TENNESSEE TECH (36-13, 16-8) vs. SOUTHEAST MISSOURI (31-16, 21-6)
Friday, May 9 /
Saturday, May 10 /
Sunday, May 11
Bush Stadium at the Averitt Express Baseball Complex (1,100) – Cookeville, Tenn.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
• Coming off fantastic back-to-back starts, junior David Hess will look to continue his hot streak on Friday against the top team in the league. Hess became the first Tech pitcher in over 10 years to record 10-plus strikeouts in consecutive starts, earning adidas® OVC Pitcher of the Week honors for the first time this season.
• The stats just don't lie. If you pitch to Brandon Thomasson, chances are you're going to give up an extra base hit. The senior has recorded 35 of them, including a team-high 17 home runs, a mark that ranks second in nation behind A.J. Reed of Kentucky. He has driven in 58 runners while batting .328 and has been especially dangerous over his past six games, clubbing five long balls over that span.
• Arguably the hottest hitter on the Golden Eagles right now, redshirt sophomore Jake Rowland proved to be a force Sunday, crushing two home runs on his way to a seven-RBI day in a 15-2 victory over Lipscomb. He batted a mind-numbing .667 in the series while slugging 1.167.
• Junior Dylan Bosheers just keeps proving he's one of the top shortstops in the country, and just on offense either. While his .381 average, 58 runs scored, 10 home runs, and 46 RBI are very impressive, his impact is truly felt on the defense. Bosheers has made just six errors all season and has a knack for turning hits into outs, including a throw from his knees after making a diving stop going away from first base on Sunday.
TENNESSEE TECH'S PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
Friday: David Hess (RHP), JR, 6-1, 205
8-2, 2.70 ERA, 76.2 IP, 79 K, 19 BB
Saturday: Evan Fraliex (RHP), FR, 6-2, 220
3-0, 3.94 ERA, 48.0 IP, 30 K, 17 BB
Sunday: Chris Chism (RHP), JR, 6-1, 205
4-3, 5.73 ERA, 48.2 IP, 37 K, 15 BB
SOUTHEAST MISSOURI'S PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
Friday: Tyler Iago (RHP), JR, 6-3, 185
4-3, 4.73 ERA, 64.2 IP, 43 K, 18 BB
Saturday: Alex Winkelman (LHP), SO, 6-2, 172
4-2, 3.17 ERA, 54.0 IP, 49 K, 24 BB
Sunday: Travis Hayes (RHP), JR, 6-3, 185
7-1, 3.16 ERA, 68.1 IP, 42 K, 26 BB