The East Central University baseball team will start a six-game home stand to end the 2013 regular-season Friday, April 19 when they host Northwestern Oklahoma State for a three-game Great American Conference series. The teams will play a single game, Friday, April 19 starting at 2 p.m. and a double-header, Saturday, April 20 starting at 1 p.m. at Tiger Field.
Fans who can’t be at the game can find links to live stats and live video (if available) on ECUTigers.com. Go to the baseball schedule page.
The Rangers come into this weekend’s games with a 19-21 overall record and an 8-16 mark in the GAC after going 1-2 with Southeastern last weekend.
Despite their close record, Northwestern has a .308 to .281 advantage in batting average this season. The Rangers have tallied 37 more (277 to 240) runs and 66 more hits than their opponents. However, they have also been struck out 30 more times.
The top two producers that have seen action in all 40 games for the Rangers are Juan Natal and Trevor Long. Natal has a team-best .422 average, with 46 hits, 30 runs scored, 13 extra-base hits, and 22 RBIs. Long adds a .368 average, with 56 hits, 43 runs scored and 36 RBIs.
Northwestern has a large pitching staff, with 17 pitchers seeing at least one inning of action and nine of those pitching 10+ innings. Clay Thomas, Jason Martyn and Josh Swain have seen the most time on the mound for the Rangers. Thomas has thrown 78 innings, has a 4-4 record, a 4.50 ERA, allowed 80 hits and 44 runs and struck out 39. Martyn is 6-2 on the year after throwing 54.1 innings. He has a 3.31 ERA, allowed 45 hits and 28 runs and struck out 55. Swain is 4-2 on the season after 41.2 innings of work. He has allowed 47 hits and 19 runs and struck out 19.
Against the Rangers
In 2012, the teams faced each other six times, with the Tigers ending the series with a 5-1 record, including a 2-0 mark at Tiger Field. ECU earned a .308 to .274 batting average advantage.
The top returner at the plate for the Tigers is junior Ethan Gold. Gold had a .333 average, with four hits, four runs scored, three RBIs and two doubles. Seniors Will Grimes and Gabriel Martinez both earned a win on the mound in the series. Grimes had a 0.00 ERA in five innings and struck out four. Martinez added a 2.25 ERA in eight innings, with two strikeouts.
Jared Moore and Trevor Long and the top returners for the Rangers. Moore hit .400, with 10 hits, four RBIs and three runs scored. Long added a .33 average on five hits, three runs scored and 5 RBIs. Eddie Cumpston is the only returning pitcher who threw more than one inning against ECU. Cumpston went 0-2 in eight innings, with a 7.88 ERA and six strikeouts.
This weekend’s series is Alumni Weekend for Tiger Baseball. All alumni are encouraged to attend. ECU fans will have an opportunity to mingle with alumni, current players and coaches after each game with free food provided. The Tigers will have a Fajita Night Friday after the game and a Crawfish Boil after Saturday’s double-header.
Grace Stepping Out
Senior Mac Grace has stepped up his performance in the final games of the 2013 season. The Tulsa, Okla., native currently has a 10-game on-base streak in progress that dates back to March 23.
Breaking the Streak
With the 3-2 come-from-behind win at Oklahoma Christian (March 18), the Tigers broke a 12-game losing streak that had started Feb. 22 at Henderson State. During the span ECU played nine of those games on the road and had three one-run games.
Mariano Making Moves
Junior Michael Mariano has been strong at the plate for the Tigers. The Okmulgee, Okla., native has a current hitting streak of 15 games going and has been on base in all 18 games that he has appeared at the plate.
Golden Grand Slam
Junior Ethan Gold hit the Tigers first grand slam of the season in the bottom of the sixth inning against Ouachita Baptist, Feb. 17. The home run was the first of the season for Gold and capped off a 14-run inning for ECU.
Shutting Out the Opposition
In the second game of the four-game series at Abilene Christian, seniors Andrew Olson and Gabriel Martinez combined to shutout the Wildcats and ECU went on to win 3-0. Olson picked up the win and threw five innings, striking out three batters and allowing five hits, but no runs. Martinez pitched the last two innings to earn the save, with no hits allowed and two strikeouts.
Benny Banging Away
Senior Benny Woodard was the first Tiger to earn a hit in the opening weekend of action, with a double. The Kennedale, Texas, native garnered a home run, two doubles, five hits, four RBIs and a .455 batting average in the first four games.
GAC Preseason Poll
The Tigers were picked to finish 10th in the 2013 Great American Conference Baseball Preseason Poll, as voted on by the league’s head coaches.
Southern Arkansas was picked to finish first, with 63 points and seven first-place votes. Southeastern earned the second spot, with 56 points and one first-place votes. Arkansas Tech was the only other school to receive a first-place vote and finished third (48 points). Ouachita Baptist (44 points), Southwestern (35 points), Harding (29 points), Henderson State (22 points) and Arkansas-Monticello (17 points) round out the field.
The final regular-season series is scheduled for April 26-27 when Southeastern Oklahoma State will come to Tiger Field for a three-game GAC series.