JACKSON, Tenn. – The No. 2 seed Eastern Kentucky University baseball team opens play in the 2012 Ohio Valley Conference Tournament on Thursday at 4:00 p.m at Pringles Park. The red-hot Colonels are seeking their first OVC Tournament title since 1989.
Tournament play begins on Wednesday afternoon, as No. 4 seed Eastern Illinois and No. 5 seed Morehead State meet in the opener at 4:00 p.m., followed by No. 3 seed Jacksonville State and No. 6 seed Southeast Missouri in the nightcap at 8:00 p.m. The Colonels, who are making their third consecutive appearance in the OVC Tournament, will play the highest-seeded team of the winners of those two games on Thursday.
EKU (31-21, 19-7 OVC) won its final seven conference games of the season to share its first OVC regular season title since 2000 with Austin Peay (34-21, 19-7 OVC). The Govs received the top seed in the tournament because they took two-of-three games from the Colonels during the regular season.
EKU brings an explosive offense into postseason play, as the Colonels lead the nation in home runs per game (1.25) and they lead the OVC in slugging percentage (.482), doubles (12), triples (21), home runs (65) and total bases (902).
First team All-OVC shortstop Richie Rodriguez is the engine of that offense. The senior lead-off man is tops on the team in almost every major offensive category, including batting average (.379), hits (77), runs (58), doubles (18), total bases (140), slugging percentage (.690) and on-base percentage (.472). First-team All-OVC outfielder Jacob Daniel (.307 batting average, seven triples, 48 RBI) and second team All-OVC second baseman Dustin Dunlop (.312 batting average, 36 runs scored, 21 walks) are also key hitters in a balanced and veteran Colonel lineup.
OVC Pitcher of the Year Matt Fyffe (9-0, 1.51 ERA), second team All-OVC left-hander Shane Grimm (6-4, 3.14 ERA) and senior right-hander Matt Harris (5-5, 5.68 ERA) lead an EKU pitching staff that has posted a league-best 3.78 ERA during conference play. The Colonels’ pitching rotation for the tournament has yet to be determined.