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This Week in Blue Raider Baseball

March 24, 2006 · MT Media Relations
SAWYER, CHESTER, HAMMOND SET TO THROW OUT FIRST PITCH: The three track women involved in a hit-and-run accident in Murfreesboro on January 17 will be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch tonight at the Sun Belt opener against Arkansas-Little Rock at Reese Smith Field. Tiffany Sawyer, Catherine Chester and Kaitlyn Hammond will all throw out the first pitch before the Blue Raiders begin the Sun Belt slate with a five-game homestand beginning tonight. Hammond and Chester are both in school and rehabbing each day in the athletic training room in Murphy Center. Sawyer is living at home on Powell, Tenn., and also rehabbing each day. The trio was scheduled to throw out the first pitch at the season-opener on Saturday, February 18, but the series was canceled because of a forecast for snow that weekend.

MIDDLE TENNESSEE VS. ARKANSAS-LITTLE ROCK: The Blue Raiders and Trojans have met 14 times since Middle Tennessee joined the Sun Belt in 2001, with the Blue Raiders owning a 12-2 mark in the series. The only meetings between the two schools since 1976 have come since Middle Tennessee joined the SBC. The Blue Raiders are 6-0 at home against UALR, with series sweeps in 2002 and 2004. Middle Tennessee won six in a row in the series until a rain-shortened, six-inning, 4-3 victory for the Trojans in the final of two games in Little Rock. In the series, the scheduled pitchers are: Friday - RH Matt Scott vs. RH Matt Bates; Saturday - LH Tyler Copeland vs. RH Trevor Clay; Sunday - RH Brett Reilley vs. RH Rob Harmon.

RAIDERS ROAD WARRIORS UNTIL SBC PLAY: With the first three games of the season against IP-Fort Wayne snowed out, as well as rainouts at Memphis on March 9 and at Birmingham Southern on March 19, Middle Tennessee played 13 of its first 17 games of the season away from home. The Blue Raiders hosted Missouri State three games March 3-5 and played 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 spent so much time on the road in February and March.

MARTIN BACK IN THE SWING OF THINGS: Senior Todd Martin batted .529 (9-for-17) in four games last week (Austin Peay, UT Martin, Birmingham Southern twice) for Middle Tennessee, belting three home runs with seven RBIs and five runs scored. He totaled 18 bases for a 1.059 slugging percentage. The senior was 3-for-5 with a walk, stolen base, two runs scored and two RBIs in a 12-11, 10-inning victory over UT Martin. He hit a solo home run in the contest and drove in the winning run in the 10th with a single to left. Martin homered again Friday at Birmingham Southern, a two-run shot, tying the game at three at the time in an 8-3 loss. He recorded a home run for the third straight game on Saturday at Birmingham Southern, a three-run shot, part of a 4-for-4 effort with a walk and two runs scored. Martin played first base on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, his first career games at first base after spending most of last season and the first 13 games of 2006 as the designated hitter because of injuries. For the season Martin has raised his average to .343, third best on the club, with a team-leading six home runs as well as 16 RBIs. He is slugging at .687, tops on the club, and has scored 13 runs, third best for the Blue Raiders. He headed into the week tied for the Sun Belt lead in home runs with Florida International's Michael Lopez and Arkansas State's Josh Yates.

PITCHING ROTATION GETS A SHUFFLE: Junior righthander Matt Scott pulled himself out of last Friday's start at Birmingham Southern with an injury, pushing everyone in the weekend rotation up one day. Junior Tyler Copeland made the first Friday start of his career against the Panthers, while junior Brett Reilley made his first career start for Middle Tennessee in Saturday's contest at BSC. Sunday's game was rained out but would have likely been a bullpen-by-committee day for the Blue Raiders, perhaps starting with closer Allan Woodward, who made four starts last season for the Blue Raiders.

KENDRICK CONTINUES HOT STREAK: Junior Wayne Kendrick continued his hot hitting last week (Austin Peay, UT Martin, Birmingham Southern twice), going 7-for-16 (.438) in four games with a double, triple, home run and six RBIs. Kendrick was 3-for-5 with a three-run triple at Austin Peay, then came back with two hits, a run and two more RBIs in Thursday's win. He pushed his hitting streak to six games with a double and first-career home run Friday at Birmingham Southern before going 0-for-4 in Saturday's contest at BSC. During the six-game hitting streak Kendrick was 15-for-29 (.517) with nine runs scored, seven RBIs, a double, triple and home run. He ranks second on the team in batting this season (.355) and runs scored (15) and tied for third in RBIs (11).

BEACHUM CLIMBING CAREER LISTS: Senior Jeff Beachum has enjoyed a very successful career at Middle Tennessee, starting all but seven possible games in his four-year tenure. Beachum moved past Mudcat Brewer (1991-94) into third place on the career hits with a three-hit performance against UT Martin on March 16, and the Cordova, Tenn., native now has 249 career hits heading into Wednesday's game at Tennessee Tech. He is only 20 hits from tying career leader Clay Snellgrove (1994-97) at the top of the all-time list. Beachum also ranks fifth in career at-bats (758), moved into first against UT Martin on the career singles list (197), tied for eighth in career doubles (43) and tied for fourth in sacrifices (21). He needs only three doubles to move into sixth place past Jayhawk Owens (43, 1988-90), Nate Jaggers (44, 2002-05) and Doug Barner (45, 1993-96). A full listing appears on page seven of these notes.

BASEBALL TEAM CAMP DATES ALSO SET: The Blue Raider baseball program will host its second annual Team Camp, July 10-13, at Reese Smith Field. The camp includes five games plus instruction, as well as a pro-style workout with area scouts on the first evening. Team coaches and players receive instruction each afternoon of the session from Middle Tennessee coaches, current and former players, as well as area high school and college coaches and scouts. Registration forms may be found at GoBlueRaiders.com on the baseball page or by calling Associate Head Coach Jim McGuire at 615/898-2961.

OTHER SUMMER CAMP DATES SET AS WELL: Three other summer baseball camps will be held in June, starting the 11th and running until the 22nd of the month. The Pitcher-Catcher Camp runs June 11-13 and the Hitting Camp is June 13-15, with both camps for ages 13-2006 High School senior. The Day Camp for ages 7-12 ONLY is June 19-22. For information on these camps please call the main athletic department number at 615/898-2450 or you may access a camp brochure on the baseball page at GoBlueRaiders.com.

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