By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – A long drive to the Land of Lincoln awaits the Tennessee Tech baseball team next, as the Golden Eagles (26-9, 9-6) head to Charleston, Ill. for a three-game, Ohio Valley Conference series with the Panthers (10-22, 4-8) of Eastern Illinois beginning with a 3 p.m. Friday contest.
The Golden Eagles are coming off arguably their best performance of the season, routing in-state rival Middle Tennessee on Wednesday, 10-3. Tech struck out 14 batters in the contest while needing just eight hits to plate the 10 runs.
As for Eastern Illinois, the Panthers enter play after grabbing an 8-2 victory over Illinois College, the first home contest for EIU in nearly two weeks. The three-game set against the Golden Eagles marks part of a five-game home stand for the Panthers.
TENNESSEE TECH (26-9, 9-6) at EASTERN ILLINOIS (10-22, 4-8)
Friday, Apr. 11 /
Saturday, Apr. 12 /
Sunday, Apr. 13
Coaches Stadium (500) – Charleston, Ill.
FOLLOWING THE ACTION
Live Stats: eiupanthers.com
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
• It's taken some time, but in his fourth year as a starter, senior Zach Stephens is the new home run king at Tennessee Tech. The first baseman clobbered his 52nd career long ball on Wednesday and now sits just two shy of breaking the all-time OVC mark. He also sits just two hits from breaking the all-time hits record at Tech and six RBI from breaking the OVC record.
• A monster year from senior Daniel Miles has propelled his name into the ranks of the best in the nation, as the third baseman was named to the midseason USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award watch list. He is batting .419 this season and has ranked first in the nation in both hits and runs on the year. He currently sits in the top three in each category, racking up 57 hits and 47 runs scored.
• Another Golden Eagle has found himself among the nation's elite, as senior Brandon Thomasson sits tied for fourth in the NCAA with 10 home runs this season. He is also in third place in RBI, driving in 43 runs in just 34 games so far this year. Thomasson leads the team with a .683 slugging percentage and owns 26 extra base hits.
• Already normally not a pitcher the opposition likes to see, junior starter David Hess will not be a favorable match-up this weekend after coming off the worst start of year. The righty allowed seven earned runs while being dealt just his second loss of the season. He still owns an impressive 2.88 ERA with 48 strikeouts in 50 innings of work.
Here's a look at the pitching match-ups between Tech and Eastern Illinois:
TENNESSEE TECH'S PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
Friday: David Hess (RHP), JR, 6-1, 205
5-2, 2.88 ERA, 50.0 IP, 48 K, 13 BB
Saturday: Chris Chism (RHP), JR, 6-1, 205
4-0, 4.01 ERA, 33.2 IP, 27 K, 11 BB
EASTERN ILLINOIS' PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
Friday: Matt Borens (RHP), JR, 6-7, 185
1-2, 4.30 ERA, 52.1 IP, 50 K, 19 BB
Saturday: Jake Johansmeier (RHP), SO, 6-3, 170
1-3, 5.74 ERA, 42.1 IP, 28 K, 17 BB
Sunday: Joe Greenfield (RHP), SR, 6-4, 215
4-3, 5.97 ERA, 34.2 IP, 25 K, 22 BB