BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – The eyes of the Sun Belt Conference will be on Bowling Green, Ky., and Nick Denes Field this weekend as Troy and Western Kentucky meet for a three-game league series. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. on Friday, 3 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday
The Hilltoppers (18-15, 8-4 Sun Belt) enter the fifth weekend of league play tied with Florida Atlantic for first place; however, the Trojans (23-9, 7-5) are just a game back in a tie for third with South Alabama.
The Trojans enter the series with wins in their last three games and in 10 of their past 12 contests; Troy defeated Jacksonville State 8-4 at home on Tuesday and took care of Samford 15-4 on the road on Wednesday.
Troy brings the Sun Belt’s top rated offense into the series at Western Kentucky. The Trojans are batting a league-best .313 as a team and rank seventh in the country averaging 7.9 runs per game.
The top four batters in the Troy lineup all rank among the top 11 in the NCAA in a statistical category. Leadoff hitter Tyler Vaughn ranks second in runs scored, just one behind the Campbell’s Ben McQuown, three-hole hitter Danny Collins ranks fourth in RBIs, cleanup hitter Trae Santos ranks ninth in RBIs and second-hole hitter Logan Pierce ranks 11th in hits.
Junior right-hander Tanner Hicks (3-2, 4.36) will take the mound for the Trojans in the opener, junior right-hander Will Starling (4-3, 5.97) will start game two, and junior southpaw Shane McCain (6-0, 3.56) will get the ball in the finale.
Western Kentucky bounced back from a slow start to the season by winning seven of its first eight Sun Belt games; the Hilltoppers have won five of their six Sun Belt home games.
First baseman Ryan Huck leads the Sun Belt with 10 home runs on the season, with six coming in league games; Santos is right on his heels with eight overall homers and five in Sun Belt play.
Junior left-hander Tanner Perkins (2-1, 3.94) will start the opener, while junior right-hander Andrew Edwards (3-1, 3.43) will get the call on Saturday and senior southpaw Tim Bado (2-3, 4.85) will start the finale.