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Raiders and ECU meet for first time this weekend

MT makes first trek to North Carolina since 1989

April 16, 2014 · @MTAthletics

THE MATCHUP

Middle Tennessee (18-19, 8-7 C-USA) at East Carolina (22-15, 9-6 C-USA)
Clark-LeClair Stadium (5,000) - Greenville, N.C.

Live Audio - Live Video - Live Stats

Thursday: LHP Zac Curtis (5-1, 2.48) vs. RHP Jeff Hoffman (2-3, 3.34) 

Friday: RHP Paul Mittura (2-2, 3.59) vs. RHP Brett Mabry (3-0, 0.89)

Saturday: LHP Johnathan Frebis (3-3, 4.43) vs. RHP Tyler Bolton (1-3, 2.19)

THE STORYLINE

Middle Tennessee baseball visits the Tar Heel state for the first time since 1989 when the Blue Raiders take on East Carolina in a league weekend series. Thursday and Friday's games are set for 5 p.m. CT, while Saturday's contest is slated for an 11 a.m. CT first pitch.

The Blue Raiders (18-19, 8-7 Conference USA) are coming off a tough 19-1 loss at Vanderbilt on Tuesday evening. MT is looking for its first conference road series win of the season.

Trent Miller leads the Blue Raiders a .361 batting average, while posting a league-leading 17 doubles and 81 total bases. Austin Bryant and Jared Allen follow with averages of .286 and .283, respectively. With a start on Friday, Murfreesboro native Ryan Stephens can pass Blue Raider Hall of Famer Mudcat Brewer with his 163rd consecutive start for fifth all-time at MT.

Senior Zac Curtis (5-1, 2.48 ERA) takes the mound against preseason All-American Jeff Hoffman (2-3, 3.34 ERA) on Thursday. Curtis leads C-USA with 81 strikeouts, including 48 of those in league games this season.

Friday's matchup features right-hander Paul Mittura (2-2, 3.59 ERA) pitted against RHP Brett Mabry (3-0, 0.89 ERA). On Saturday, left-hander Johnathan Frebis (3-3, 4.43 ERA) faces RHP Tyler Bolton (1-3, 2.19 ERA).

East Carolina (22-15, 9-6 C-USA) lost its series at Old Dominion last week. The Pirates picked up an 8-5 victory over UNC Wilmington on Wednesday evening. The Pirates sit in fifth place in the league standings, a game ahead of the Raiders. The Blue Raiders and ECU are meeting for the first time on the diamond.

Offensively, the Pirates are led Zach Houchins and Preseason C-USA Co-Player of the Year Drew Reynolds. Houchins is hitting .349 in 37 games, while Reynolds is holding steady at .324.

Fans can watch this weekend's games on the C-USA Digital Network or listen to Dick Palmer describe the action on WMOT 89.5 FM and GoBlueRaiders.com

NOTES (For full version, view PDF):

Miller a Pillar in Blue Raider lineup

Senior 1B Trent Miller has started all 37 games so far this year for the Blue Raiders, making 34 starts at first base and three in right field. Miller has hit third in all 36 games, leading the Blue Raiders in average (.361), slugging (.551), RBI (27), and a Conference-USA best 17 doubles. Miller leads C-USA with 81 total bases and is second with 53 hits this season.

Curtis Collecting Ks in Conference USA

Senior LHP Zac Curtis matched a career-high for the third time this year with 11 strikeouts against Mississippi Valley State on Friday. Curtis has recorded a 1.13 ERA over five Conference USA starts, striking out 48 batters against nine walks, with a .231 average against. The 48 punchouts in conference games and 81 on the season both lead Conference USA. His 81 K's rank fourth nationally, while his strikeouts per game total is 12th in the NCAA.

Miller Inking His Name in the Record Books

Senior Trent Miller ranks seventh with 857 career putouts. He is one RBI shy of moving into 10th with Jeff Beachum. Miller's 362 total bases is eight behind Clay Snellgrove. The Kansas City native is three doubles away from reaching third held by Blake McDade (62).

Allen Notching the Extra-Base Hits

Jared Allen's five home runs is tied for second in Conference USA. The junior ranks second on the squad with 15 extra-base hits this spring. He belted his third triple of the year at Vanderbilt on April 15. Allen is two triples shy from reaching fifth all-time in a single season.

LaRue Loves to Walk

3B Hank LaRue has garnered 92 free passes during his tenure at Middle Tennessee. The senior is four shy from reaching 10th held by Phillip Edwards.

Steady Stephens

Senior OF Ryan Stephens has started 162 consecutive games in center field for the Blue Raiders entering the week, a streak 66 games longer than the next-longest streak of consecutive starts. With a start on Friday, Stephens can pass Mudcat Brewer for fifth all-time. Stephens is five shy of reaching Rawley Bishop for fourth. Senior Trent Miller has made 95 straight starts between left field, right field and first base.

Up Next: Austin Peay

Austin Peay (14-22, 6-9 OVC), the reigning 2013 Ohio Valley Conference Champions, are off to a slow start this season. The Governors lost two-of-three from conference leaders Southeast Missouri last week. APSU visits Belmont for a three-game weekend series before returning home against MT next Wednesday, April 23. First pitch for the contest is set for 6 p.m.

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