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Golden Eagles set to wrap up regular season with three-game set at Belmont

By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Just three games remain between the Tennessee Tech baseball team and the 2014 Ohio Valley Conference tournament, and with a spot in the league's post season already clinched, the Golden Eagles will set their sites on securing a first round bye as they take on the Belmont Bruins beginning Thursday.

Just one seed with an automatic spot in the second round of the OVC tournament remains after Southeast Missouri locked up the top spot this weekend. The Golden Eagles enter the final week of the regular season tied with Jacksonville State for the No. 2 seed, owning a tiebreaker after sweeping the Gamecocks earlier this season in Cookeville.

Standing in the way of Tech's hopes for a bye is a three-game set in Nashville as Belmont looks to try and rally for a spot in the tournament's six-team field. The Bruins enter the series after taking two of three at Murray State this past weekend, however, Belmont did lose its midweek contest against Middle Tennessee, falling by a score of 13-3 in seven innings.

The Golden Eagles salvaged a win in their three-game series against Southeast Missouri this past weekend, clobbering the Redhawks 21-10 on Sunday after dropping the first two contests. SEMO clinched the regular season title by defeating Tech on Friday.

The last time these two squads met, the Golden Eagles took the first two games of the series, clinching the 2013 OVC regular season championship before falling to Belmont in the third contest.

TENNESSEE TECH (37-15, 17-10) at BELMONT (22-29-1, 11-15-1)

Thursday, May 15  /

 Friday, May 16  /

 Saturday, May 17

5 p.m.

 5 p.m.

 1 p.m.

E.S. Rose Park (1,000) – Nashville, Tenn.

FOLLOWING THE ACTION
Webcast: OVC Digital Network (Thursday) (Friday) (Saturday)
Live Stats: Prime Time (Thursday) (Friday) (Saturday)
Radio: none
TV: none

WHAT TO WATCH FOR
• Tearing apart opposing pitching seems to have become one of Brandon Thomasson's favorite hobbies in recent weeks, as the senior slugger has clubbed eight home runs in his past nine games. His outstanding performance at the dish this past weekend (three round trippers, two doubles, 10 RBI, .571 average) was more than enough to earn him National Player of the Week honors from Collegiate Baseball newspaper and OVC Player of the Week honors from College Sports Madness. He ranks second in the nation with 20 bombs, just one off the national leader, A.J. Reed of Kentucky. He also ranks first in total bases (157), second in RBI (68), and second in slugging (.741).

• Not many players have been better than Dylan Bosheers when it comes to conference play. The shortstop is batting an impressive .394 with six doubles, eight home runs, 27 RBI, and 29 runs scored. His .670 slugging percentage over that span ranks second on the team, as does his .461 on base percentage in the 27 OVC contests Tech has played.

• In what many would consider to be down year for the senior slugger, Zach Stephens has proved that you can still produce without having a high average. Despite batting .279 (45 points below his career average), Stephens has still managed to drive in 50 runs, the second highest total on the team. He has also matched last year's home run total of 15 and scored 47 runs while playing an impressive first base. Stephens has made just four errors this year, recording a .992 fielding percentage.

• A monster in his past two road starts, junior ace David Hess will look to bounce back and return to that form after struggling at home in his most recent appearance on the hill. In those two road contests, Hess went 2-0 while striking out 20 batters over 13 innings of work. He allowed two walks and eight hits while giving up just one run. 

• Senior pitcher Stanton Taylor seems to be a good choice to finish what Hess starts this weekend, as the reliever has been the only other Tech pitcher to visit the mound in Hess' past two road starts. In those two appearances, the right-hander tossed five innings of relief, garnering a save and surrendering just one earned run. He struck out an insane nine batters while walking two and giving up just a single hit.