EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - The University of Evansville baseball team will kick off a five-game home stand Tuesday night at 6 p.m., when the Purple Aces will host Murray State at Braun Stadium.
Evansville (24-14) took two of three games in a pivotal Missouri Valley Conference series at Dallas Baptist over the weekend, as the Aces topped the Patriots in the first two games of the set. DBU avoided the sweep with a victory in the nightcap of Saturday's doubleheader. Senior Jake Mahon and junior Boomer Synek each finished the series 6-for-12 at the plate to lead Evansville offensively in the series and Synek tallied a team-high seven RBI with a pair of doubles and a home run for a .917 slugging percentage. Junior Kevin Kaczmarski and sophomore Shain Showers both tallied three doubles and drove in three runs apiece in the series.
The Aces lead the MVC with a .291 batting average and have accumulated 78 doubles, seven triples and 12 homers for a .391 slugging mark. UE is getting on a base at a .386 clip, has stolen 38 bases in 53 attempts and ranks second in the conference with a .971 fielding percentage.
Junior Kyle Pollock and sophomore Josh Jyawook are both hitting .331 on the year to lead Evansville's offense and the duo has combined for 65 RBI. Pollock has driven in 38 runs on 12 doubles two triples and a trio of long balls, while Jyawook ranks four on the squad with 27 RBI and has scored a team-best 32 runs. Sophomore Eric McKibban boasts a .319 average with seven doubles and 13 RBI, and junior Kevin Kaczmarski leads the team with 16 doubles, three triples, four homers and a .539 slugging percentage.
Aces' pitchers have combined for a 4.22 ERA this season with 274 strikeouts around just 122 walks in 328.2 innings. Junior Kyle Freeland, who has earned victories in his last six starts, leads the staff with a 7-1 record and 1.83 ERA. The southpaw has racked up 87 strikeouts and walked just four opposing hitters in his 64.0 innings of work. Senior Sam Johns and sophomore Brent Jurceka have bolstered UE's bullpen, combining for 30 relief appearances. Johns has tallied seven saves and posted a 3.38 ERA with 15 strikeouts in 21.1 frames, and Jurceka has racked up 36 strikeouts and allowed 14 runs in 34.1 innings out of the bullpen for a 3.67 ERA.
Murray State (17-20) enters Tuesday's game after dropping two of three road games to Ohio State over the weekend, as the Thoroughbreds won game two of the series, 7-5, but fell in the opener, 3-1, and in the series finale, 7-3.
MSU is hitting .268 as a team with 73 doubles, six triples and four home runs for a .345 slugging percentage. Murray State owns a .367 on-base percentage, is 28-for-38 on the base paths and fielding .963, collectively. Taylor Mathews leads the team with a .304 average and is the only Thoroughbred hitting over the .300 mark. Mathews also ranks second in the team in both RBI (24) and runs scored (30) to go with five doubles, a pair of triples and a home run. Tyler Lawrence is hitting just under .300 at .299 with a team-high 26 RBI, while Anthony Bayus boasts a .296 average with 10 doubles and two triples for a team-leading .400 slugging percentage.
Murray State's pitching staff has combined for a 4.84 ERA, 230 strikeouts, 129 walks and a .285 opposing batting average in 329.0 innings. Brock Downey has been the ace of the staff, as he sports a 7-1 record with a 1.89 ERA in 76.0 innings and is limiting opponents to a .222 average. John Lollar has made a team-high 17 appearances out of the bullpen and has accumulated a 4.29 ERA, 17 strikeouts and a pair of saves in 21.0 innings of relief.
Evansville leads the all-time series with Murray State, 32-13, but the Thoroughbreds defeated the Aces, 11-6, earlier this season at Reagan Field in Murray, Ky. Four different MSU hitters each tallied two RBI in the win and Pollock paced UE by going 2-for-5 with a pair of RBI.