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This Week in Blue Raider Baseball - May 12

May 12, 2006 · MT Media Relations
OPTIMIST LITTLE LEAGUE MAKEUP DAY THIS SUNDAY: The makeup day for the Optimist Little League Day is Sunday, May 14, versus Louisiana-Lafayette. The parade of Little Leaguers will begin at 12:40 p.m. before the 1 o'clock start between the Blue Raiders and Ragin' Cajuns. The makeup date is printed on the ticket distributed in the Optimist League. All foul balls are souvenirs compliments of Agee's Sporting Goods.

MIDDLE TENNESSEE VS. LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE: Middle Tennessee and Louisiana-Lafayette have played 15 times over the last three seasons, including six meetings in the Sun Belt Championships. The Ragin' Cajuns have won the weekend series the last four years and own an 18-14 mark all-time against the Blue Raiders since 1978. Since Middle Tennessee joined the Sun Belt, UL is 10-4 in the regular season but just 1-5 against the Blue Raiders in the SBC Tournament. Middle Tennessee has eliminated the Cajuns the last three years from the conference tourney, handing them both losses in the double-elimination bracket in 2003 and 2004.

LAST TIME AGAINST THE CAJUNS: Middle Tennessee defeated UL, 7-5, at the Sun Belt Championships on May 27, 2005, in Miami, Fla., with Eric McNamee collecting three hits and scoring twice for the Blue Raiders. Middle Tennessee scored all seven runs against UL starter Kevin Ardoin in five-plus innings of work for the righthander. Josh Anderson, the fourth of five Blue Raider hurlers, picked up the win with 1.1 scoreless innings, while Allan Woodward tossed the final 2.2 innings in the victory, propelling Middle Tennessee into its third straight SBC Tournament championship game.

TIDBITS: Middle Tennessee has won eight of nine overall this season and is 17-4 (.810) at home in 2006, the best mark since 2001 (23-9, .719). The 1990 club has the best home winning percentage in the last 20 years at 24-3 (.889) ... Middle Tennessee improved to 4-1 in the month of May with victories over Memphis in the midweek. The club is now 40-14 in the month of May since the start of the 2003 season ... The Blue Raiders have recorded double-digit hits in a game 33 times this year, including 11 straight and 25 of the last 26. Middle Tennessee is 23-10 in 2006 when collecting more than 10 hits in a game ... The current .333 team batting average is 10 points higher than the school record for team average in a season (.323, 1997) ... The Blue Raiders have 60 home runs this season as a team, including 18 in the last seven games. Middle Tennessee hit four against both Arkansas State and Memphis and 10 at Florida International last weekend.

LAST TIME IN MURFREESBORO: Louisiana-Lafayette won two of three meetings in Murfreesboro on April 2-4, 2004, including a 14-inning victory on Friday night. The Ragin' Cajuns and Blue Raiders played for more than four hours in the series opener on Friday before UL prevailed, 6-5, on John Coker's RBI single. Kraig Schambough tossed six innings of relief for the victory, allowing one run on five hits with five strikeouts. Shane Kemp's heroics not once but twice kept the Blue Raiders from losing earlier. Kemp hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to send the game to extra innings and then belted a solo shot in the 13th to tie the game again.

PETERSON PICKS UP NO. 600: Middle Tennessee head coach Steve Peterson posted his 600th career victory at Middle Tennessee in Wednesday's 8-7 win over Memphis. Peterson is the winningest coach in Blue Raider baseball history and owns a career mark of 600-467-2 in his 19 seasons as head coach at Middle Tennessee. Peterson's overall mark of 753-561-2 includes six seasons as head coach at Roane State CC in Harriman, Tenn.

AGAINST THE CAJUNS: Jeff Beachum leads the Blue Raiders with a career .406 batting average (26-for-64) with five doubles and 14 RBIs in 15 career outings, while Matt Scott is 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA in four career outings, including a complete-game six-hitter last season in Lafayette. Other notable include: Nathan Hines was 6-for-16 (.375) in four games last season; Michael McKenry is 8-for-22 (.364) in seven career games, five starts, with two home runs and eight RBIs; and Adam Warren was 5-for-17 (.294) in four games last season.

MARTIN VOTED ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT: Middle Tennessee senior Todd Martin has been named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District baseball team, earning Second Team honors. Martin carries a 3.25 grade-point-average in Business at Middle Tennessee. The Cookeville, Tenn., native earned Third Team All-America honors last season for the Blue Raiders after batting .412 with 13 doubles, eight home runs and 31 RBIs. This season Martin is batting .356 in 40 games, leading the Sun Belt with 15 home runs and driving in 51. Martin is the first Blue Raider baseball player named to the Academic All-District team since Chuck Akers earned Second Team honors in 2003.

FIVE CURRENT, FORMER PLAYERS GRADUATE: Five current or former Middle Tennessee baseball players graduated on May 6. Former Blue Raiders John Williams (BS in Concrete Industry Management, Concentration in Production, Sales and Service, minor in Business Administration) and Eric McNamee (BBA in Marketing, minor in Business Administration) both participated in Commencement ceremonies. Student assistant coach Chris LeGuenec (BS in Engineering Technology, Concentration in Electro-Mechanical Engineering Technology), Tyler Copeland (BBA in Business Administration, minor in Economics/Finance) and Tommy Sterritt (BUS in University Studies, Concentration in College of Basic and Applied Science) also earned degrees. Copeland still has one year of athletic eligibility remaining for the Blue Raiders while Sterritt is a senior.

MCKENRY HOT STREAK NOW AT 27 GAMES: Junior Michael McKenry's batting average has hovered near the .400 mark for the last seven weeks, including a season-best .420 on April 12. The Knoxville, Tenn., native experienced a mini-slump in games on April 26 and 28, going 0-for-3 against both Tennessee Tech and Arkansas State, the first back-to-back no-hit games for McKenry since the third, fourth and fifth contests of the season (February 26-March 3). Since Sun Belt play began on March 24, the Farragut HS product is batting .431 (44-for-102) with seven doubles, 10 home runs, 39 RBIs and 32 runs scored. He also has 21 walks and a .814 slugging percentage during the stretch of 27 games, with the Blue Raiders posting a 19-8 mark. Heading into the weekend series with Sun Belt co-leader Louisiana-Lafayette, McKenry leads Middle Tennessee in batting average (.411), RBIs (59), walks (30), slugging percentage (.744), on-base percentage (.512) and ranks second in home runs (13) and doubles (11). He is fourth in the Sun Belt in RBIs and tied for second in the league in home runs as well as third in total bases (125). During his current six-game hitting streak, McKenry is 13-for-27 (.481) with three home runs, nine runs scored and 13 RBIs.

2006 COLEMAN COMPANY-JOHNNY BENCH AWARD SEMIFINALISTS ANNOUNCED: The Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission announced Thursday the list of 10 semifinalists for the 2006 Coleman Company-Johnny Bench Award. This award is presented annually at the Greater Wichita Sports Banquet to the nation's top collegiate catcher, as voted on by the national voting committee, which is comprised of sportswriters, sportscasters, Division I coaches and scouts. A comprehensive biography will be created on each of the semifinalists and sent to the national voting committee at the end of May for a vote to determine the three finalists. The finalists will be announced June 1, 2006. A final vote among the national selection committee will occur during the College World Series. All three finalists and their coaches will be invited to Wichita for the 9th Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet on June 28, 2006, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Wichita. Johnny Bench will present the award to the recipient. The Coleman Company-Johnny Bench Award semifinalists are (in alphabetical order): J.P. Arencibia, Tennessee; Ryan Bono, Central Florida; Zach Dillon, Baylor; Jeff Kunkel, Michigan; Matt McBride, Lehigh; Michael McKenry, Middle Tennessee; Jordan Newton, Western Kentucky; Eddy Rodriguez, Miami (FL); Jake Smith, East Carolina; Chad Tracy, Pepperdine

BEACHUM'S SENIOR YEAR A SPECIAL ONE: Senior Jeff Beachum has always been a consistent player for Middle Tennessee, but the Cordova, Tenn., native is having by far the best season of his career in 2006. Beachum ranks second on the squad in batting average (.401), more than 70 points above his career average heading into this season. He is also first in doubles (14), hits (81) and stolen bases (10) and second in runs (48). Beachum ranks sixth in the Sun Belt in batting and fourth in hits with 81. In Sun Belt games only, the Cordova HS product's .427 batting average and 35 hits both rank third in the league.

BEACHUM ALSO REWRITING RECORD BOOKS: Senior Jeff Beachum is not only having his best season at the plate, but the four-year starter is rewriting the career record books at Middle Tennessee. The Cordova HS product set the all-time hits record April 11 against Austin Peay with his first home run of the season. Beachum has 306 career hits heading into the weekend series with Sun Belt co-leader Louisiana-Lafayette, ranking second on the all-time Sun Belt list behind only Ernie Carr (Jacksonville Univ., 318, 1985-88). Beachum has played in 214 career games at Middle Tennessee, sixth most in school history, and also ranks third in runs scored (165), first in at-bats (889) and singles (241), second in doubles (53), third in total bases (391), ninth in RBIs (134) and second in sacrifices (25). He is also tied for eighth on the Sun Belt doubles list with 53 (Chris Hayes, Jacksonville, 1992-95; Oswaldo Aguirre, Louisiana-Lafayette, 1994-97). A full listing of Middle Tennessee career records appears on pages 17-18 of these notes.

SCOTT CONTINUES TO RACK UP WINS: Junior righthander Matt Scott compiled a 10-1 mark in 2005 and thus far has recorded a 7-1 record with a 2.97 ERA in 69.2 innings of work, starting 10 games and striking out 41. In Sun Belt contests, the Smyrna, Tenn., native is 4-0 with a 3.30 ERA in 43.2 innings of work, striking out 30 in six starts. For his career Scott is now 20-3 overall, the best winning percentage (.870) in school history, and is seventh on the all-time wins list, passing Steve Sonneberger (1983-86) and Greg Johnson (1985-87). His 2.97 career ERA also ranks 10th, just three-hundredths of a point behind current pitching coach Mike McLaury. In the Sun Belt, Scott ranks seventh overall in pitching and his seven wins are tied for third with four others.

HITTING STREAK ENDS AT 14 FOR HINES: Sophomore Nathan Hines struggled with injuries and a lack of confidence at the plate early in the season and had only 24 at-bats in the month of March. Hines put together a career-high 14-game hitting streak April 12-May 9, raising his season average 115 points to its current .269. During the 14-game stretch the Murfreesboro, Tenn., native was 22-for-58 (.379) with four doubles, three home runs, 18 runs scored and 12 RBIs. Hines had five hits, including a double, and scored three times last weekend at Florida International. He is batting .300 (15-for-50) with 10 RBIs and 10 runs scored in 12 Sun Belt games.

MORE ON BEACHUM: Senior Jeff Beachum had a 14-game hitting streak come to an end on April 26 against Tennessee Tech with a 0-for-4 effort, tied for the longest hitting streak by a Blue Raider this season and a career-long for Beachum during one season. He hit in 15 consecutive games spanning the end of 2005 and the first four games of this year. During the 14-game stretch, Beachum was 30-for-70 (.429) with five doubles, 13 RBIs and 19 runs scored. This season he has hit safely in 39 of the 44 contests and has 30 multi-hit games in 44 outings. In his career Beachum has 97 multi-hit outings in 214 career games. He also recorded a career-high five hits on Tuesday against Memphis.

KENDRICK'S HITTING SLUMP NOW SLOWING HIS SCORING OF RUNS: Junior Wayne Kendrick has stepped into the second base role vacated by departed senior Eric McNamee and picked right up where McNamee left off, hitting for average, drawing walks and most importantly, scoring runs for the Blue Raiders. The Murfreesboro, Tenn., native leads the team with 51 runs scored heading into the weekend series with Sun Belt co-leader Louisiana-Lafayette and is tied for second on the squad with 26 walks. Kendrick has struggled at the plate in the last seven games, going 5-for-27 (.185), but he has scored nine times in the seven contests. His .431 on-base percentage is fifth best on the club. Kendrick had a career-long 12-game hitting streak from March 25-April 15, batting .370 (20-for-54) with four doubles, nine walks, six RBIs and 17 runs scored. For the season the Riverdale HS product ranks seventh for the Blue Raiders in batting average (.327), tied for fourth in hits (56) and third in stolen bases (7), starting all but one game at second base.

MARTIN FINDING HITTING STROKE FROM LAST SEASON; CONTINUES TO BELT HOMERS: Senior Todd Martin battled elbow and knee injuries last season, limiting his power production in home runs (8) and doubles (13). This season the Cookeville, Tenn., native has been healthier than in 2005 and his power numbers are both up. He has also found his hitting stroke from last season when the Cookeville HS product batted .412. Martin currently leads the Blue Raiders and the Sun Belt Conference with 15 home runs while adding eight doubles and 51 RBIs. He currently has a career-best 12-game hitting streak, batting .458 (22-for-48) during the stretch with seven home runs, 19 RBIs and 16 runs scored with a .958 slugging percentage. He has been the designated hitter and played both first base and centerfield, returning to the outfield midway through this season and drawing 11 starts in center. Last weekend at Florida International, Martin was 7-for-14 (.500) with six runs scored and seven RBIs, homering in all three contests. He moved into a tie for ninth on the single-season home runs list with his 15th on Wednesday against Memphis, tying Dwight Robinson (1990), Jamie Walker (1995) and Josh Archer (2003).

TAYLOR FINDS HOME RUN TROT: Senior Marcus Taylor has been in and out of the lineup all season, starting 25 games and playing in 37 overall for the Blue Raiders. His talent and raw power have never been questioned, only his ability to put the ball in play with consistency. Taylor took advantage of three straight starts at Florida International over the weekend, homering in all three games, scoring five times and driving in four runs. He struck out only once in 13 at-bats. He continued the string of good plate appearances in midweek games against Memphis, collecting three hits in seven at-bats, including another home run, and just one strikeout. The Henry Clay HS product now has 10 home runs and 23 RBIs for the season. He currently has an eight-game hitting streak heading into the weekend series with Sun Belt co-leader Louisiana-Lafayette, batting .400 (10-for-25) with four doubles, four home runs, seven RBIs, nine RBIs and more important, just two strikeouts. In his career the Louisville, Ky., native has 135 hits in 145 career starts, with 70 of the hits going for extra bases (37 doubles, 4 triples, 29 home runs), or 52 percent. But he has also struck out 185 times in 540 career at-bats (34 percent).

COPELAND STELLAR IN SECOND STRAIGHT START: Junior Tyler Copeland began the season as the Saturday starter for the Blue Raiders, picking up victories in his first two starts of the year (Jacksonville State, Missouri State). But the lefthander struggled in his next four outings before making a midweek start against Belmont on April 12. After two relief appearances, including three innings of work and a win against Vanderbilt, the Lawrenceburg, Tenn., native returned to the weekend rotation against Arkansas State on April 29, allowing three runs in a season-best 6.1 innings. Copeland topped that with one of the best outings of his career at Florida International last Saturday, scattering 10 hits and giving up one run with four strikeouts for his sixth win of the season. For the year he is 6-2 with a 3.52 ERA, ninth best in the Sun Belt, striking out 28 in 46.0 innings of work.

HORN CONSISTENT ALL SEASON: Senior Josh Horn, a first-year starter and walk-on for the Blue Raiders, has been a consistent performer for the Blue Raiders all season at the hot corner and at the plate. The Shelbyville, Tenn., native has started every game at third base this season, making all of the routine plays and several outstanding grabs. At the plate is where Horn has made his biggest contribution, though, batting .337, fourth-best on the squad, with 11 doubles, five home runs and 31 RBIs. He has batted ninth in 29 of the 44 games this season. His average has not fallen below .305 and the Columbia State CC transfer has batted .386 (22-for-57) over the past 13 contests with three doubles, two home runs, 16 RBIs and 14 runs scored. During his current seven-game hitting streak, Horn is 15-for-33 (.455) with six multi-hit outings, nine runs scored and 13 RBIs.

WOODWARD STELLAR AT THE END: Senior Allan Woodward stepped into the closer's role last season for Middle Tennessee, stabilizing the bullpen in the Blue Raiders run to the Sun Belt Tournament championship game. The righthander has been stellar in almost every appearance this season, though his 4.55 says otherwise. Subtract two appearances for Woodward this season - April 7 at New Orleans and April 23 at South Alabama - and the Columbia, Mo., native is 2-1 with four saves and a 1.93 ERA in 28.0 innings of work, striking out 37 with opponents batting only .228. In those 21 appearances, Woodward has allowed just 23 base hits, two for extra bases (both doubles), and six runs.

STREAKS: Senior Todd Martin carries a career-long 12-game hitting streak into this weekend's series against Louisiana-Lafayette, the longest current streak for a Blue Raider. Martin is batting .458 (22-for-48) during the stretch with seven home runs, 19 RBIs and 16 runs scored with a .958 slugging percentage during the stretch. Senior Marcus Taylor has an eight-game hitting streak, batting .400 (10-for-25) with four doubles, four home runs, seven RBIs, nine RBIs and more important, just two strikeouts. Senior Josh Horn has hit in seven straight, going 15-for-33 (.455) with six multi-hit outings, nine runs scored and 13 RBIs, while senior Jeff Beachum also has a seven-game hitting streak, collecting 15 hits in 32 at-bats (.469) with nine runs scored and seven RBIs. Junior Michael McKenry has hit in six straight, going 13-for-27 (.481) with three home runs, nine runs scored and 13 RBIs.

IN THE NATIONAL STATISTICS: Middle Tennessee ranks in the Top 30 in six categories as a team and four players appear in the individual statistics. As a team the Blue Raiders rank eighth nationally in slugging percentage, 11th in home runs per game, 13th in batting average and 16th in scoring. Middle Tennessee is also 28th in triples per game and 30th in doubles per game as a team. Individually, junior Michael McKenry is 31st in the country in batting, 43rd in home runs per game, 15th in RBIs per game and 18th in slugging percentage. Senior Jeff Beachum ranks 58th in the nation in batting and 18th in the toughest-to-strikeout category. Senior Todd Martin is 11th nationally in home runs per game, 23rd in RBIs per game and 45th in slugging percentage. Junior Wayne Kendrick is 33rd in the country in runs per game.

IN THE SUN BELT STATISTICS: Seniors Jeff Beachum, Marcus Taylor and Todd Martin and juniors Michael McKenry, Wayne Kendrick, Adam Warren, Matt Scott and Tyler Copeland all appear in the Sun Belt statistics through games of May 11. McKenry (.411) and Beachum (.401) rank fourth and sixth, respectively, in batting average, while Beachum is fourth in the league in hits with 81. McKenry is tied for second in home runs (13), fourth in both RBIs (59) and third in total bases (125). Martin leads the Sun Belt in home runs with 15. Kendrick is tied for fifth in runs scored with 51 and Warren is tied for third in triples with four. Taylor is tied for fourth in home runs with 10. Scott and Copeland are seventh and ninth, respectively, in individual pitching, combining for a 13-3 mark with a 3.19 ERA in 115.2 innings of work. In Sun Belt games only, Beachum is third in batting average (.427) while McKenry is ninth (.400), and Beachum's 35 hits are third best. McKenry's 24 RBIs are tied for second and his sixth home runs are tied for first. Scott's 4-0 mark and 3.30 ERA is seventh best in the league in SBC games only.

CHUCK TAYLOR GOLF TOURNAMENT SET: Middle Tennessee head baseball coach Steve Peterson has announced the annual Chuck Taylor Golf Tournament will be played at Indian Hills Golf Course on Tuesday, June 6, 2006. As usual, the event will be a four-person scramble with prizes awarded for first through fifth place. Prizes will also be given for Closest-to-the-Pin and Longest Drive. A hole-in-one on any par 3 on the course will be awarded prizes as well. Each entry into the tournament will receive a barbecue lunch, a goody bag, free beverages on the course, a red tee and mulligan, and a chance for a big money prize for an ace on hole number seven. The entry fee is $115 per player. The tournament committee is also seeking hole sponsors for $100 each. Registration for the tournament is slated to begin at 11:30 a.m. with a shotgun start scheduled for 1 p.m. For further information or to obtain a registration form, please contact Tommy Wheeler at 615/890-3333 or 615/893-8498. Entries may be mailed to: Blue Raider Baseball, MTSU Box 90, Murfreesboro, TN 37132. When sending in an entry, please include the names and addresses of each player in the foursome along with your entry fee. Entry forms can be found on the baseball page at GoBlueRaiders.com.

BASEBALL TEAM CAMP DATES 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: 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.

GOBLUERAIDERS.COM: Middle Tennessee baseball statistics and notes are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at GoBlueRaiders.com. Media are invited to use the official website for Middle Tennessee athletics for information regarding all Blue Raider athletic teams. Aside from baseball related materials, feature stories, game previews and wrap-ups, stats and notes are available for every athletic team.

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