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February 24, 2010

Tech set for home opener against Cleveland State

Weekly Notes (PDF)

Gametime Saturday moved to 1 p.m.

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – After winning two out of three games against Georgia Southern to start the season, the Tennessee Tech baseball team will be at home for the first time in 2010 when it takes on Cleveland State in a three-game beginning at 3 p.m. on Feb. 26 at Bush Stadium. The teams will also meet on Feb. 27 at 1 p.m. and Feb. 28 at 1 p.m.

The Golden Eagles enter the series at 2-1 overall, while Cleveland State, from the Horizon League, is 0-3 in 2010 after dropping a set an UNC Greensboro. Friday will mark the first ever meeting between the two programs.

Tech enters the 2010 season with a six-game home winning streak going back to 2009. The Golden Eagles were 20-9 at home last season and have won four  consecutive home openers.

The Golden Eagles are led this season by sophomore shortstop Chad Hayes. Hayes went 7-for-12 from the plate in the series against Georgia Southern, and leads the Ohio Valley Conference with a .583 batting average. Hayes had two doubles and three RBIs in the series. Senior Tate McMillan had three straight multi-hit games against GSU, while Chad Oberacker and Seth Edwards also had a hit in all three games.

Junior A.J. Kirby-Jones is creeping close to many Tech career records, both at the plate and on the mound. Kirby-Jones is currently sixth in school history in career RBIs with 123, just nine behind Steve Hawkins for fifth place. His 26 career home runs are sixth all-time, just two behind Bobby Morgan and Mark Maberry for fourth in Tech history. On the mound, Kirby-Jones needs just one more save to move into a tie for third place in Tech career history with six.

Tech’s pitching staff is led by two dominating seniors, Adam Liberatore and Lee Henry. Liberatore earned the OVC’s first Pitcher of the Week honor of 2010 after throwing 6.0 innings of three-hit ball. Liberatore struck out five batters without allowing a run in a win over Georgia Southern. Henry is coming off a phenomenal season in 2009 when he went 9-3 and led the pitching staff with 80 strikeouts, the seventh most in a season by a Tech pitcher.

After its three-game set against Cleveland State, Tech will hit the road to face Vanderbilt in Nashville on March 2, before returning home for a three game series against Bradley beginning with a double-header on March 6. Admission to all Tech home baseball games is free.