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Baseball to face pair of in-state foes during the week

Blue Raiders travel to Vanderbilt, home against Austin Peay

April 16, 2012 · Athletic Communications
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Middle Tennessee baseball will break from Sun Belt play this week to take on a pair of in-state foes. The Blue Raiders will travel to Vanderbilt on Tuesday for a 6:30 p.m. contest at Hawkins Field, then return home to host Austin Peay Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Reese Smith Jr. Field.

The Blue Raiders (21-15, 9-6 SBC) are coming off a series loss against Troy. MT pounded 21 hits in Friday’s contest to earn a 12-10 victory, but dropped the final two games, 6-2 and 10-3. Robert Lawrence delivered a career performance on Friday, going 4-for-6 with two triples, two runs and an RBI. Trent Miller bashed his team-leading 10th home run of the season in Saturday’s contest and continues to pace the Blue Raiders with a .370 average.

Cody Tollison will take the mound against the Commodores on Tuesday, marking his first start of the season. Tollison has made nine appearances this season and holds a 4.70 ERA with a record of 0-1. The lefthander had his longest showing of the season at South Alabama, pitching 2.0 innings and allowing two hits with a walk and a strikeout. In last year’s meeting against Vanderbilt in Murfreesboro, Tollison tossed one inning in relief, combining with starter Paul Mittura to hold the Commodores scoreless through the first five innings before they claimed the 1-0 win.

Wednesday’s starter will be Keaton Baker. Baker, also making his first start, has made nine appearances as well with a 9.53 ERA. He tossed an inning against Austin Peay last Wednesday, giving up one hit and striking out one. His longest outing of the season came at Tennessee, where he held the Volunteers hitless for 2.2 innings while allowing one unearned run.

MT is 23-53 all-time against Vanderbilt (16-20, 6-9 SEC), including a 16-33 record under head coach Steve Peterson. During the Peterson era dating back to 1988, the Blue Raiders have only won five of 25 contests at Vanderbilt, with the last coming in a 6-4 victory in 2005. MT’s last win against the Commodores was in the 2009 NCAA Louisville Regional, where the Blue Raiders claimed a 5-4 triumph in the opening game. Vanderbilt swept the two meetings last season, earning a 9-1 win in Nashville and aforementioned 1-0 win in Murfreesboro.

The Commodores, a 2011 College World Series participant, have won three of their last four, including a pair over Auburn last weekend to claim the series. Anthony Gomez leads Vanderbilt with a .359 average and 33 RBI.

Despite dropping last week’s contest to the Governors, 10-3, MT leads the series, 44-22, since 1988. The Blue Raiders are 24-9 when facing Austin Peay at home, but have dropped the last two in the series at Reese Smith Jr. Field. Last year, each team won on the road. MT claimed a 9-6 win in Clarksville, while the Governors won, 11-4, in Murfreesboro.

Since last Wednesday’s meeting, the Governors dropped the series opener against Murray State before bouncing back with pair of victories, including a 13-12, 10-inning win on Sunday. Jordan Hankins is hitting .318 with 36 RBI to lead Austin Peay. Righthander Andy Cox will take the mound for the Governors, sporting a 4.91 ERA and 1-1 record. Cox got the start last Wednesday against the Blue Raiders and pitched one inning, allowing one hit.

Both contests can be heard online at GoBlueRaiders.com or on WMTS 88.3 with Dick Palmer and John Callow on the call.

Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.