COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Having finished fourth in the regular season rankings, the Golden Eagles (24-27 overall, 12-12 OVC) will ride the momentum of their game three win over Murray State into the 2011 Ohio Valley Conference Tournament in Jackson, Tenn. They'll kick off play in the double elimination tournament against the five-seeded Colonels of Eastern Kentucky (21-34 overall, 11-13 OVC) Wednesday at 3 p.m.
Golden Eagles look to demote Colonels in OVC Tournament opener
May 23, 2011
Earlier this season, the Golden Eagles took the series over EKU, two games to one in Bush Stadium, sweeping the opening double-header before dropping game three.
Tech's lineup currently features five Golden Eagles batting over .300, paced by veteran Casanova Donaldson with a .327 mark. Donaldson, who ripped his fifth home run of the year in game three against Murray, a three-run inside the park shot, has 18 extra-base hits on the season and has contributed 35 RBI for Tech.
Another of the team's seniors, Chad Oberacker, and Tech's newest power hitter, freshman Zach Stephens, are both showcasing .323 averages at the plate and lead the squad with 10 home runs and 48 runs batted in apiece.
In the regular season series, Oberacker went 3-5 with five RBI in the double-header sweep, while Donaldson chipped in with a 3-for-6, two RBI performance on the Saturday show. In the game three loss, EKU was able to hold the two batters to a combined 1-for-8 showing.
Evan Frazier and Chad Hayes round out the team's .300 hitters, batting at .316 and .304 respectively.
The Colonels closed out their regular season as they were swept by soon-to-be OVC opponent SIU Edwardsville and lost two straight in conference play, going 1-2 two weeks ago against Jacksonville State. They have gone 2-5 in their last seven contests, and will look to break the slump in postseason play against Tech.
In order to bounce back, the Colonels will continue to look to a quarto of players leading the team in RBI and batting averages. Richie Rodriguez continues to pace EKU with his .364 average at the plate and contributed 26 RBI on the season, while Jacob Daniel fuels the team in scoring with 44 RBI hitting .337 at the plate. Daniel is followed closely by Bryan Soloman, who notched 40 RBI on a 63-205 effort at the plate for a .307 mark.
A.J. Jamison rounds out the group hitting .317 on the year, contributing 17 RBI.
EKU's lineup will face Tech righty Tristan Archer. On the season, Archer has paced the Golden Eagle pitching staff in several categories, including a team-high six wins. He has also fanned 61 batters, while giving up just 22 walks
The Colonels will counter with right-hander Stephen Heffler. Heffler finished the regular season with a 7-4 record and a 3.43 ERA. He has struck out 52 batters on the season in 86.2 innings pitched.
The Golden Eagles won the 2009 OVC Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. In 2010, Tech won the OVC regular season championship and advanced to the OVC Tournament finals. Tech defeated EKU and Murray State, but fell to Jacksonville State in the finals.