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March 13, 2018 at 1:18 pm #55099
Matt KellerMuskets: 8Rank: Redshirt
Winners of five of its last six, the West Virginia University baseball team travels to Tennessee Tech for its first mid-week games of the season, on March 13 and 14, in Cookeville, Tennessee.
First pitch on Tuesday, March 13, is set for 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT, while the series at Bush Stadium concludes on Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET/1 p.m. CT.
The Mountaineers (7-6) have won back-to-back weekend series after a 2-1 weekend at Middle Tennessee. WVU has scored at least seven runs in each of its last six games, and has hit one or more home runs in nine consecutive contests. This week’s games are the final two of a season-opening 15-game roadtrip.
The Mountaineers rank among the NCAA and Big 12 leaders in several statistical categories. WVU leads the Big 12 and is 14th in the NCAA with 21 home runs, while its .492 slugging percentage and is second in the Big 12 and 19th nationally. Additionally, West Virginia’s 10 sacrifice bunts are third in the Big 12.
Individually, Kevin Brophy is No. 5 nationally averaging 0.50 home runs per game, while Kyle Gray is third in the Big 12 and No. 17 in the NCAA with a 0.42 average. Darius Hill’s 0.54 doubles per game are 19th nationally and first in the Big 12, and Andrew Zitel sits in first in the conference with 0.27 sacrifice bunts per game. Additionally, Alek Manoah and BJ Myers both have made four starts, which is tied for sixth in the NCAA.
The Golden Eagles (9-5) are WVU’s first of nine opponents in 2018 that is coming off an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2017. West Virginia and Tennessee Tech will be meeting for the first time this week.
Sophomore right-hander Isaiah Kearns (0-0, 5.79 ERA) will make his second start of the season Tuesday for the Mountaineers, and he will face Golden Eagle junior lefty Alex Hursey (1-2, 10.00). On Wednesday, sophomore lefty Nic Dye will go for the Tennessee Tech, while West Virginia’s starter has not been determined.
Tennessee Tech will have live video and stats for both games this weekend at Bush Stadium. Links for each game can be found on the baseball schedule page on WVUsports.com.
Additional behind-the-scenes updates, news and notes from Cookeville, Tennessee, can be found on social media by following and connecting with the team on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @WVUBaseball.
SCOUTING TENNESSEE TECH
Tennessee Tech owns a 9-5 record with a 7-3 mark at home. The Golden Eagles are coming off a home series win over UT Martin to begin Ohio Valley Conference play. TTU swept a doubleheader on Friday, 13-11 and 12-5, before a 4-3 loss on Saturday.
Alex Junior leads the team with a .417 batting average, while he is second with 25 hits. Trevor Putzig has a team-best 23 RBIs, while John Ham paces the squad with seven home runs.
On the mound, Marcus Evey has a team-leading 28 strikeouts in 13.1 innings pitched, while Ethan Roberts has a team-best 3.09 ERA amongst pitchers with at least 10.0 innings pitched.
The Golden Eagles are coached by Matt Bragga, in his 15th season in Cookeville. A three-time Ohio Valley Conference Coach of the Year, he has won five OVC titles in the past nine years. Bragga is 402-385-2 at TTU and 527-479-2 in his 19-year career.
SERIES HISTORY VS. THE GOLDEN EAGLES
West Virginia and Tennessee Tech meet for the first time this week.
WVU is 20-8 all-time against current members of the Ohio Valley Conference. A year ago, the Mountaineers beat Morehead State, 5-1, at Monongalia County Ballpark.
ON DECK: HOME OPENER
West Virginia hosts its home-opening series this weekend, from March 16-18, vs. Canisius. The home opener is set for Friday, March 16, at 3 p.m. ET, while Saturday’s contest will begin at 2 p.m. First pitch on Sunday is at 1 p.m. Tickets are available for all three games this weekend, at WVUGAME.com, by calling 1-800-WVU GAME or at the Mountaineer Ticket Office at the WVU Coliseum or on gameday at Monongalia County Ballpark. Friday is a Dollar Day, with tickets and select concessions available for just $1, and fans can play Baseball Bingo. Saturday will feature $5 tickets on game day and a flash sale, where fans can purchase tickets to any game this season for just $5 by using the promo code LUCKY on WVUGAME.com/Promo.
LAST TIME OUT: SERIES WIN AT MIDDLE
Last weekend, West Virginia won its second consecutive weekend series, going 2-1 at Middle Tennessee. The Mountaineers erased a 6-0 first-inning deficit, but ultimately lost the series opener, 8-7. WVU evened the series with an 8-4 win the next day, scoring two runs in the second inning and another five in the fifth behind a pair of home runs. The bats stayed hot on Sunday to secure the series win, 10-4, as West Virginia scored runs in five consecutive innings, going on a 9-0 run to break the game open.
In the opener on March 9, WVU trailed 6-0 after one, but chipped away with four runs on no hits in the fourth and one run in each of the next three innings to tie the game at 7-7. However, the Blue Raiders scored one unearned run in the eighth to regain the lead. WVU put runners on the corners with two outs in the ninth, but could not tie the game again. The 8-7 loss snapped West Virginia’s three-game winning streak.0
WVU evened the series on Saturday, shutting out MTSU for seven innings as the offense scored two in the second and five in the fifth. The 8-4 win was fueled by home runs from Jimmy Galusky and Marques Inman, and Christian Young earned the win with 4.0 shutout innings in relief. Galusky and Inman both had three RBIs, while Galusky had three hits.
The bats stayed hot in the final game to win the series, as all but one starter had at least one hit, six had one or more RBI and six scored at least one run. WVU trailed 4-1 in the second, but stormed back to score the next nine runs. Kyle Gray had three hits and two RBIs, while Connor Hamilton made his first career start and had two hits and three RBIs, his first hits and RBIs as a Mountaineer. Kade Strowd struck out a career-best 11 batters and improved to 2-1 on the mound in the 10-4 victory.
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