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March 10, 2009

Golden Eagles home for five games host Belmont, Valparaiso this week

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech baseball team continues its action with five games slated for this week. The Golden Eagles will host Belmont on March 11, and play a pair of double headers against Valparaiso on March 13 and 14.

The Golden Eagles have been hot in the early part of the season, putting together a five-game winning streak before dropping the series finale against Toledo last week. Tech is hitting .315 as a team this season, and has a team ERA of 4.77. The Golden Eagles lead the OVC with 34 doubles on the year.

Belmont enters the week at 6-6 overall, and have played four games against mutual opponents of Tech this season. Middle Tennessee beat both Tech and Belmont, while Toledo went 2-1 against the Bruins, and 1-3 against Tech. Tech swept the season series against Belmont last year, winning 7-4 in Cookeville, and 13-3 in Nashville. The Bruins lead the all-time series 27-28.

Valparaiso (4-6) enters the week on a five-game losing streak after playing No. 21 Arkansas and Memphis last week. The Crusaders will play a double header at Mississippi State on March 11 before coming to Cookeville for the four-game series. Valparaiso does own a couple wins over an Ohio Valley Conference team, as it beat Morehead State twice to open the season. Valpo won’t play its first home game of the season until March 27.

Tech sophomore A.J. Kirby-Jones has been effective early in the season from the plate and the mound. Kirby-Jones is batting .311, and leads the team in home runs (4), RBIs (18), total bases (33) and slugging percentage (.733). On the mound Kirby-Jones holds a 1.54 ERA with 15 strikeouts, while opponents hit just .200 against him.

Tech’s 8-3 start is slightly better than a season ago to this point. The 2008 Golden Eagles went 7-3-1 in their first 11 games, and went on to win 35 games, the second most wins in school history.

Looking ahead to next week, Tech will play a mid-week road contest against Southeastern Conference opponent Tennessee on March 18, before returning home to host Southeast Missouri in a three-game series to open Ohio Valley Conference play.