This Week in Blue Raider BaseballMarch 7, 2006 · MT Media Relations
The Blue Raiders and Tigers have met 67 times since the start of the 1983 season with Middle Tennessee leading the series, 34-33. Head coach Steve Peterson is 31-26 against Memphis in 18-plus seasons at the helm of the Blue Raider program. Middle Tennessee has won six in a row in the series and 8-of-10 dating to March 26, 2003. The Blue Raiders three games last season in the series, with the second game in Memphis rained out. The composite score of Middle Tennessee's six-game winning streak is 67-32.
Six Games in Six Days
Middle Tennessee begins a stretch of six games in six days starting with Tuesday's three-game series at Memphis. The Blue Raiders and Tigers play Tuesday and Wednesday in originally scheduled contests and added Thursday's game after both teams lost games in the opening weekend of the year because of snow. Middle Tennessee then heads to Carbondale, Ill., for a three-game series against Southern Illinois. The Blue Raiders and Salukis have met just four times in the last 30 years, with the two teams splitting the series. The two teams split two games in 1993 and then again last season, with both series' taking place in Murfreesboro. It will be Middle Tennessee's first-ever trip to Abe Martin Field on the Southern Illinois campus.
Raiders Road Warriors Until SBC Play
With the first three games of the season against IP-Fort Wayne snowed out, Middle Tennessee will play 14 of its first 18 games of the season away from home. The Blue Raiders hosted Missouri State in three games over the weekend and take on UT Martin on March 16 at Reese Smith Field in the team's only other home game until opening Sun Belt Conference play at home against Arkansas-Little Rock on March 24-26. In the recent past, the 2004 squad played eight of its first 11 on the road, while the 2002 club played nine of its first 15 away from home. It has probably been since 1994 when the Blue Raiders played 11 of the first 14 on the road since a Middle Tennessee squad has been so much time on the road in February and March.
Offense Up and Down
Middle Tennessee's 4-3 record has been an up-and-down ride, with the offensive production hitting peaks and valleys from game to game. The Blue Raiders accounted for 32 hits in the opening three wins at Jacksonville State, including 14 and 11 hits, respectively, in 6-2 and 7-1 triumphs. But the squad managed just eight hits in a loss at Belmont last Tuesday and only two hits in a 6-1 defeat in the home opener against Missouri State on Friday. The offense came alive again in Saturday's 15-2 win over MSU, collecting a season-high 17 hits. But Sunday's loss was right back in the other direction, with the Blue Raiders managing only two hits through seven innings in an 11-4 loss. In the team's four victories, Middle Tennessee has averaged almost 13 hits and eight runs a contest, while in the three losses the squad has averaged only six hits and barely three runs a game.
Copeland Solid at No. 2 Spot
Redshirt junior Tyler Copeland has taken the No. 2 spot in the weekend rotation and performed better than anyone on the staff, posting a pair of victories with a 1.64 ERA in 11.0 innings of work. Copeland allowed an unearned run on four hits, striking out two in a win at Jacksonville State on February 26. Last Saturday the lefthander gave up two runs on five hits in six innings of work, striking out three in a victory over Missouri State. Opponents are batting just .237 against the Lawrenceburg, Tenn., native, and he has allowed just two extra-base hits and walked only two.
Beachum Mr. Consistent at the Top
Senior Jeff Beachum has hit in the leadoff spot in all seven games thus far this season, the first time the Cordova, Tenn., native has hit No. 1 in the order since the final 27 games of his freshman season. Beachum carried an 11-game hitting streak to start the season and hit safely in the first four games of the 2006 campaign before an 0-for-4 performance on Friday against Missouri State. But the four-year starter at shortstop came back with three hits in eight at-bats and three runs scored in the final two games versus the Bears. For the season Beachum leads the Blue Raiders with a .355 batting average (11-for-31) with two doubles, eight runs scored and one RBI. He also has three walks and a .412 on-base percentage.
Martin Finds a Groove on Sunday
Third-team All-American Todd Martin had been scuffling at the plate, falling in the lineup from third to sixth before possibly coming out of his slump on Sunday with a 3-for-4 effort. Martin batted just .240 (6-for-25) in the first six games of the year with one homer, three runs scored and four RBIs. On Sunday the senior designated hitter belted an opposite-field home run in the second inning, a triple off the centerfield wall in the fifth inning and a double just inside the third-base bag in the eighth inning. Martin batted .412 last season, earning ABCA/Rawlings Third Team All-America honors and recording the third-highest single-season batting average in school history. He has not yet resumed playing the outfield after surgeries on both his elbow and knee last summer, and a setback with the elbow this spring.
Notes from Missouri State
Friday: Redshirt freshman Taylor Dennis made his first career start at second base ... Matt Scott allowed a two-run homer in the first inning. Scott did not allow a round-tripper at home last season in 53.2 innings of work and had not given up a homer at home since April 30, 2004, versus Western Kentucky ... Shay Horseman made his first appearance since June 4, 2004, at Georgia in the NCAA Regional. Horseman underwent Tommy John surgery in August 2004 ... The Blue Raiders managed just two hits in the game. The last time Middle Tennessee had only two hits in a game was in a 2-0 defeat to Memphis on April 3, 2002 ... Senior Jeff Beachum's career-high 15-game hitting streak dating to last season came to an end after an 0-for-4 effort ... Junior Matt Scott picked up the loss, ending his seven-game winning streak dating to last season. The righthander allowed a career-high two home runs and lost for the first time since April 8, 2005 ... Junior Wayne Kendrick did not play, serving a one-game suspension after being thrown out of the game at Belmont on Tuesday.
Saturday: Jeff Beachum tied his career-high with two walks ... Nathan Hines tied his career-high with three runs scored and tallied his 15th career double ... Josh Horn tied his career-high with two hits and two RBIs and had his second career double ... Wayne Kendrick drew a career-high three walks ... Adam Warren tied his career-high with two runs scored and two walks ... Rawley Bishop tied his career-high with two run scored ... Tyler Copeland recorded his career-high third straight victory ... Brett Reilley picked up his first career save with three shutout innings of work.
Sunday: Todd Martin recorded his 15th career double, first career triple and 10th career home run ... Jeff Kasser's three-game winning streak came to an end ... Redshirt freshman Chad Coley made his first career appearance on the mound in the seventh ... With the win Missouri State wins the series, 2-1. The Bears have won five of the last six series between the two teams dating to 1999. The two teams did not play in 2001 and only played twice in 2002 because of a Sunday rainout. Middle Tennessee won the series, 2-1, in 2004.
Four Blue Raiders each have two-game hitting streaks heading into the series at Memphis - Jeff Beachum, Todd Martin, Nathan Hines and Michael McKenry. Beachum has three hits in the two games, Martin has four hits in the two contests, Hines has five hits in the two outings, and McKenry has four hits in the two games. Marcus Taylor is the only other Middle Tennessee player with a hitting streak - one game - after his pinch-hit home run in Sunday's finale against Missouri State.
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