ARKANSAS STATE RED WOLVES
vs. Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders
March 19-21, 2010 6:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m. & 1:00 p.m.
Tomlinson Stadium & Kell Field (1,200) Jonesboro, Arkansas
Radio: KBTM 1230 AM & AStateRedWolves.com
LiveStats Available at AStateRedWolves.com
LEADING OFF: The Arkansas State Red Wolves return to Tomlinson Stadium and Kell Field for a Sun Belt Conference weekend series against the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee State. The series will get underway Friday, March 19 at 6:00 p.m. Saturday's game is scheduled for 4:00 p.m., while Sunday's game three is set to begin at 1:00 p.m. All ASU games may be heard on KBTM 1230 AM and through the StateZone portion of AStateRedWolves.com. LiveStats may also be accessed by logging on to AStateRedWolves.com
THE TEAMS: Arkansas State is 11-6 on the season, while MTSU is 11-5, and both teams are 2-1 in Sun Belt Conference play following last weekend's action. Arkansas State opened last weekend's series at Louisiana-Lafayette with a 13-5 loss to the Ragin' Cajuns. The Red Wolves evened the series with a 6-2 win in Saturday's game, then wrapped up their third consecutive series victory over the Cajuns with a 13-9 win in Sunday's finale. The preseason Sun Belt Conference favorite, Middle Tennessee opened league play last weekend with a 5-4, 11-inning victory over Louisiana-Monroe. The Blue Raiders dropped an 8-5 decision to ULM in the Saturday game, then wrapped up the series victory with a 9-3 win in game three. In midweek action, the Blue Raiders defeated Lipscomb 18-15 March 16, while Arkansas State split a two-game series at Missouri State. The Red Wolves fell 2-1 in Tuesday's game before holding on for a 5-4 win in Wednesday's contest. This weekend's series will feature some of the best pitching in the league going against one of the Sun Belt's best hitting teams. The Red Wolves are second in the league with a team ERA of 3.76, while Middle Tennessee is second in hitting with a team batting average of .330. The Red Wolves are 7-3 when playing at Tomlinson/Kell while the Blue Raiders are 6-3 on the road.
THE MTSU SERIES: Middle Tennessee State leads the overall series 21-7. When the two teams met last season in Murfreesboro, the Blue Raiders posted a 3-0 sweep over Arkansas State. In the Friday opener, Middle Tennessee State center fielder Nathan Hines hit a ninth-inning home run to force extra innings, then delivered a two-out, walk-off home run in the 10th to give the Blue Raiders a 10-8 win. MTSU won 14-3 in game two and 10-3 in Sunday's game three.
When the two teams met during the 2008 season in Jonesboro, the Blue Raiders won the series 2-1, with all three games being decided by one run. The Red Wolves took a 1-0 advantage in the series with a 6-5 win in the Friday night game, but MTSU edged ASU 2-1 in game two before clinching the series with a 7-6 victory in the Sunday finale.
ON THE MOUND FOR ASU: Junior right-hander Andy Ferguson will get the Friday night start when the series opens March 19. Ferguson (2-1, 5.73 ERA) has made four appearances on the year, giving up 16 runs (14 earned) in 22.0 innings of work. He has walked seven batters, while striking out 16. Senior southpaw Ross Humes (2-1, 1.99) will also be making his fifth appearance on the season when he takes the mound in Saturday's game. In 22.2 innings on the mound, Humes has given up nine runs but just five earned runs. Humes has fanned 15 batters on the season while walking four. Sophomore Jacob Lee (2-1) will get the call in the Sunday finale. Lee has logged 22 innings of work in four appearances this year, giving up 10 runs on 20 hits with 20 strikeouts and 11 walks. He will take an ERA of 3.68 into the weekend series.
ON DECK: The Red Wolves travel to Southeast Missouri State for a March 24 meeting with the Redhawks before returning to Sun Belt Conference play March 26-28 at New Orleans.
SERIES COMEBACK: After dropping the Friday opener in their series at ULL last weekend, the Red Wolves bounced back to take the series 2-1 with wins in the Saturday and Sunday games. The series victory marked the first time since the final week of the 2007 season that Arkansas State has recovered from a loss in the opening game and come back to win the series.
STREAKING: Arkansas State senior second baseman Giovanni Garcia carries a 12-game hit streak into this weekend's series with Middle Tennessee. Garcia's hit streak is the longest for any ASU player this season. Junior third baseman Jordan Castaldo has also put together a seven-game hit streak heading into the weekend.