TROY, Ala. – Fresh off an 11-2 victory over Auburn on Tuesday, the Troy baseball team returns to Sun Belt Conference action this weekend with a three-game series against Middle Tennessee. First pitch at Riddle-Pace Field is schedule for 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.
All three games will be broadcast live on the Troy IMG Sports Network with local coverage on 94.7 FM in Troy and worldwide coverage online and on smartphones at TroyTrojans.com/showcase. Fans can watch the games live via Trojans All-Access and find live stats for the games at TroyTrojans.com
The Trojans (16-7, 3-3 Sun Belt) used a pair of big innings to pull away from the Tigers on Tuesday night. Troy scored five runs in the fifth inning and added four more in the eighth to pull away for its largest margin of victory in the series. Ryan Sorce and Nate Hill combined for 14 strikeouts on the mound.
Troy enters the series with Middle Tennessee (16-11, 3-3) coming off a series victory at ULM. The Trojans won the final two games of the series by a combined 20-6 margin after dropping the opener. The Blue Raiders swept their series with Louisiana-Lafayette last weekend after suffering a sweep at the hands of Western Kentucky during the opening week of league play.
Seven of Troy’s starting nine enter the weekend batting over .300 led by Danny Collins (.412) and Tyler Vaughn (.411). The Trojans lead the Sun Belt batting at a .317 clip and with 3.5 extra-base hits per game. The Trojans have scored double-digit runs 11 times through 23 games and are 15-2 when scoring at least six runs.
Middle Tennessee and Troy rank first and second in the Sun Belt in doubles on the season with 57 and 55, respectively, but the Blue Raiders have played four more games than the Trojans.
Led by Trae Santos’ .500 (12-for-24) batting average, the Trojans have hit even better during league play; Troy is batting .329 and averaging 7.5 runs in its six league games.
A lot of Troy’s recent offensive success can be traced to the bottom of the lineup led by second baseman Garrett Pitts and catcher Brandon Brown. Pitts is batting .533 with three doubles and four RBIs over the past four contests while Brown has picked up 10 of his 14 hits this season over the past eight games and is batting .375 over the last five games.
Troy will send the same starting rotation to the mound for the fourth straight week. Junior right-hander Tanner Hicks (3-1, 4.36) will start the opener for the Trojans and will be looking to bounce back from his first loss of the season. Hicks has allowed three or fewer earned run in five of his six starts this season.
Will Starling (3-2, 6.31) will take the mound for the Trojans on Saturday. The junior right-hander has struck out 29 batters in 25.2 innings this season and has allowed two or fewer earned run in four of his six starts.
Coming off a two-hit shutout at ULM last week, junior southpaw Shane McCain (4-0, 3.38) will toe the rubber on Sunday. McCain, who has the only shutout in the Sun Belt this season, has allowed just two hits in his last two starts and will enter his start with a 0.88 WHIP. He has 34 strikeouts in 32 innings of work and opponents are batting just .191 against him.
The Blue Raiders spilt a pair of mid-week games at Memphis this week after defeating No. 2 Vanderbilt 4-1 last week. Ryan Ford (.345) leads a trio of Blue Raiders batting over .300 on the season while Middle Tennessee’s two catchers, Dain McNabb and Michael Adkins, both have a team-best three homers.
Senior right-hander Hunter Adkins (4-2, 3.43) is scheduled to start the opener for the Blue Raiders, while sophomore lefty Johnathan Frebis (3-2, 3.41) – the 2012 Sun Belt Freshman of the Year – will start game two and junior southpaw Zac Curtis (4-2, 5.34) will start the finale.