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The Murray State News

The Murray State News

The Murray State News

Baseball to play EKU for Alumni Weekend

Senior second baseman Jordan Cozart hit a walkoff single during a three-game series against EKU in 2019. (Photo courtesy of Dave Winder/Racer Athletics)

Simon Elfrink

Sports Editor

[email protected]

After defeating the Bellarmine Knights 10-5 on Tuesday, April 20, the Murray State baseball team is ready to come back to Johnny Reagan Field for a three-game series against EKU. 

The win against Bellarmine pushed the Racers to 18-16 overall, while the Colonels are looking at a .371 winning percentage with a 13-22 record so far in 2021. However, the Colonels upset Morehead State in their most recent game on Tuesday, April 20. EKU is at the bottom of the conference this year with a 7-11 record, while Morehead State owns the top spot in the OVC at 8-4. 

As of April 18, EKU and Murray State hold the eighth and ninth places in the conference for lowest batting average, with EKU’s team average sitting at .259 and Murray State’s average being .258. While their averages are almost identical, the Racers’ long ball numbers dwarf EKU’s, as the Racers have hit 47 home runs to EKU’s 34. 

Contributing to Murray State’s home run total is senior second baseman Jordan Cozart, who stands atop the conference with 12 home runs. Cozart has been the cornerstone of the Racers’ lineup, leading his team in average (.288), slugging percentage (.629), on-base percentage (.383), runs (35), RBIs (35), total bases (83) and walks (20). Cozart is also tied for first place on the team for hits on the season with 38. 

Sharing that No. 1 spot in hits is redshirt junior center fielder Jake Slunder, who is slashing an impressive line. Boasting a .281 average, Slunder gets on base 36.8% of the time and is slugging .422. Slunder also leads the team in stolen bases with 15 on just 17 attempts. Slunder’s speed has helped him on the defensive end, having collected 83 putouts for a perfect fielding percentage in 2021. 

The corner outfielders have been a huge help at the plate for the Racers this year. Senior left fielder Ryan Perkins swings a modest .221 at the plate, but he’s driven in 26 runs and slugs .369. Senior right fielder Brock Anderson’s hits has brought his average up to .274, hammering 10 balls over the fence and driving home 28 so far this season. 

Redshirt junior Bryson Bloomer plays the hot corner on the infield for the Racers and has been another big bat in their lineup this season. Bloomer has a batting average of .278 and an OBP of .357. Bloomer’s six home runs in 2021, have helped him knock 25 runs across for Murray State.

Unlike the Racers, the Colonels have two batters hitting above .300 on the year. Sophomore outfielder Cam Ridley is tied for first on the team with a .317 average, driving in 13 runs and slugging .407. Ridley’s OBP is .396, and he has stolen 10 bases on 15 attempts. 

Junior second baseman Daniel Harris IV shares a .317 batting average with Ridley, tallying 44 hits on the season and driving in 25 runs for the Colonels. Harris slugs a .489 and has also stolen ten bases on just 14 attempts. 

EKU has looked to junior outfielder Caleb Upshaw to drive in runs all season. Upshaw has 31 RBIs and also leads the Colonels in home runs with eight. His slugging percentage of .508 is the best on the roster. 

After being the hero in the series-salvaging game against Belmont last weekend, graduate right-handed pitcher Sam Gardner is likely to make another appearance on the hill for Murray State. Hitters that have faced Gardner have collected 38 hits over 34.2 innings and scored 28 runs, 22 of which were earned. Gardner has struck out a team-high 36 batters.

Freshman righty Jack Wenninger boasts the best record of Racers’ starters this year (3-3). Wenninger has appeared in eight starts, allowing 21 runs on 29 hits and 18 walks. He has also struck out 28 batters. 

Sophomore lefty Shane Burns (1-1) has eight starts under his belt, allowing 44 hits in 41 innings. Burns has allowed 22 runs, all of which were earned. Burns has walked 28 batters and struck out 24. 

Redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Darren Williams could make a showing on the mound against the Racers, having started in eight of his 10 appearances. Williams spots a lackluster 1-5 record on the year, but has pitched in a team-high 49.2 innings this season, allowing 52 hits and 27 runs. Williams has walked 27 batters, but struck out 53 more, tying for fourth in the OVC. 

The first game of the series will be the first of a doubleheader at 1 p.m. on Friday, April 23. 

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