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Baseball welcomes Marshall for regular season finale

Blue Raiders on verge of clinching berth to C-USA Championship

May 14, 2014 · @MTAthletics

THE MATCHUP

Marshall (20-28, 10-16 C-USA) at Middle Tennessee (27-25, 14-13 C-USA)
Reese Smith Jr. Field (2,100) - Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Thursday, May 15 - 6 p.m.

LHP Zac Curtis (7-3, 1.81 ERA) vs. RHP Matt Margaritonda (2-6, 4.14 ERA)

Friday, May 16 - 6 p.m. (TGIF Friday)

RHP Paul Mittura (3-3, 4.26 ERA) vs. TBD

Saturday, May 17 - 1 p.m. (Senior Day)

LHP Johnathan Frebis (3-5, 4.76 ERA) vs. TBD

Tickets - Video - Audio - Stats

THE STORYLINE

Middle Tennessee closes out the 2014 regular season with a critical weekend series against the Marshall Thundering Herd this Thursday-Saturday. First pitches for Thursday and Friday's contests are set for 6 p.m. starts, while Saturday's finale is slated for 1 p.m. at Reese Smith Jr. Field.

The Blue Raiders (27-25, 14-13 Conference USA) are in the quest to clinch a berth to the C-USA Championship in Hattiesburg. Entering the weekend, MT can finish anywhere from fourth to ninth place. The Raiders need just two wins to clinch a spot to the tournament. Middle Tennessee closed out the non-conference slate on Tuesday with a 13-3 drubbing of Belmont in Nashville.

Left-hander Zac Curtis steps on the mound for the final time at home on Thursday. The senior holds a 7-3 record with a 1.81 ERA. He leads the nation with 118 strikeouts. Marshall right-handed pitcher Matt Margaritonda (2-6, 4.14 ERA) takes the mound against Curtis.

The Raiders will throw RHP Paul Mittura (3-3, 4.26 ERA) on Friday and southpaw Johnathan Frebis (3-5, 4.76 ERA) on Saturday. Marshall has yet to determine their final two starters.

Trent Miller still leads the Blue Raiders offensively with a .340 batting average. The senior is tops in Conference USA with 22 doubles, ranking seventh nationally. Miller needs just one more double to tie the school record of 65 held by Nathan Hines.

Junior Dustin Delgado has reached on base in 11 consecutive games, posting a team-best .398 on-base percentage. Jared Allen still leads Conference USA in home runs after belting his 10th of the year at Belmont on Tuesday.

The Thundering Herd (20-28, 10-16 C-USA) have lost eight out of their last 10 games. Marshall was swept last weekend against Old Dominion, thus eliminating the team from postseason play. Freshman Cory Bird leads Marshall with a .299 batting average in 41 games. Caleb Ross is the top Thundering Herd pitcher with a 2-0 record and 1.96 ERA.

On Saturday, the Middle Tennessee Athletic Department will honor its nine seniors that will partake in their final game. Zac Curtis, Jake Ellison, Hank LaRue, Trent Miller, Paul Mittura, Jonathan Sisco, Ryan Stephens, Cody Tollison, as well as manager Will Lairamore, will be recognized in a ceremony prior to the game.

To purchase tickets for this weekend, visit GoBlueRaiders.com or call 615-898-2103. Fans can listen to all three games on WMOT 89.5 or watch online at GoBlueRaiders.com.

NOTES (For full version, view PDF):

A JOLT FROM JARREAU

Freshman OF Brad Jarreau has started the last six games in right field for the Blue Raiders, making an immediate impact on the Middle Tennessee lineup. Jarreau has gone 7-for-21 over those six games with six runs scored. In the walk-off win over UTSA May 4, Jarreau drove in the game-tying run in the ninth before scoring on a wild pitch to win the game. He followed that with a three-hit performance at FIU May 9 and a three-RBI game vs. Belmont Tuesday.

MILLER A PILLAR IN BLUE RAIDER LINEUP

Senior 1B Trent Miller has started all 52 games so far this year for the Blue Raiders, making 46 starts at first base and six in right field. Miller has hit third in all 51 games, leading the Blue Raiders in average (.340), slugging (.529), RBI (42), and a Conference-USA best 22 doubles. Miller leads C-USA with 109 total bases and is second in the league with 70 hits.

DISCIPLINED DELGADO

Junior SS Dustin Delgado has walked in each of Middle Tennessee's last seven games, and has reached base multiple times in seven of his last eight contests. After not reaching via a free pass in 11 consecutive games from April 8-25, Delgado has walked 10 times in his last 10 games. Delgado has walked a team-high 32 times this season.

CURTIS FINDING UNIQUE SUCCESS

Senior LHP Zac Curtis pitched the Blue Raiders' first two-hitter in five years last Friday at FIU. The Hendersonville native pitched his second complete game shutout of the year, fanning eight in the contest. Curtis has shaved his ERA to 1.81 and is 7-3 after his 13th outing last week. He leads the nation with 118 strikeouts. The Hendersonville native has not allowed more than one earned run in the last 63 innings, giving up just a total of four earned runs. Curtis' 118 Ks is fourth all-time in a single season and four away from Chris Mobley's 122 punchouts in 2004. Curtis' 192 career punchouts ranks 10th in program history.

ATTABOY ALLEN

LF Jared Allen leads Conference USA with 10 home runs this season. The junior hit a three-run homer in MT's win over FIU on May 10th and another Tuesday at Belmont. Allen is third in C-USA with 97 total bases.

THE NATIONAL STAGE

Middle Tennessee's Zac Curtis and Trent Miller both are making splashes on the national stage. Curtis leads the NCAA with 118 strikeouts, 11th with 10.69 strikeouts per game and seventh with five complete games. Miller entered the week sixth in the NCAA with 21 doubles and 11th in the NCAA with 0.41 doubles per game.

SCOUTING MARSHALL

The Thundering Herd (20-28, 10-16 C-USA) looks to play spoiler this weekend in Murfreesboro. Marshall, mathematically eliminated from postseason contention, has lost 10 of its last 13 in C-USA play. The Herd have lost six games to inclement weather this season, including a conference game vs. Tulane. Freshman OF Corey Bird has been the catalyst of the Herd offense, hitting .299 while stealing 13 bases. Junior right-hander Matt Margaritonda has anchored the rotation, winning two C-USA Pitcher of the Week awards while making 12 starts.

LARUE RACKING UP THE WALKS

3B Hank LaRue has garnered 97 free passes during his tenure at Middle Tennessee. The senior passed Phillip Edwards Tuesday to move into sole possession of 10th in Blue Raider history.

MILLER INKING HIS NAME IN THE RECORD BOOKS

Senior Trent Miller ranks sixth with 965 career putouts. The Kansas City native is tied for second with 64 career doubles and one away from tying Nathan Hines for the school record. Miller is eighth with 152 RBI and 390 total bases.

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