NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Belmont University Baseball makes the short trip to Clarksville to take on Austin Peay for a three-game weekend series. First pitch of the series is slated for 6:00 p.m. CT on Friday.
This weekend's series has great OVC implications. With Belmont sitting atop the conference and Austin Peay sitting just a game back, this weekend series will be a closely watched one throughout the conference.
Senior Casey Queener (Brentwood, Tenn.) has been a powerful force on the mound and the leader of the Belmont pitching staff. He leads the OVC with 61 strikeouts, 20 of those looking. Opponents are hitting just .188 off Queener, the second- best mark in the conference. In addition to his top-five ERA (2.39) in the conference, he has also pitched the third most innings (37.2). Not only does Queener sit atop the conference in several statistical categories, but he is also among the nation's best. He has struck out the third most batters in the nation and has the fifth best strikeout per nine innings mark (14.58).
Freshman Joshua South (Cookeville, Tenn.) has been impressive in his appearances on the bump this season. In just his third appearance, South threw a complete game shutout of preseason favorite Morehead State. He only allowed multiple hits in one inning and no Eagle ever advanced past second base. Even more impressively, he threw nine complete innings without a walk. South has continued to be a force on the mound ranking among the OVC's best in multiple categories. He has the eighth best ERA (2.81) and ranks 10th in earned runs allowed with 25.
WALK IT OUT
Senior Chas Hadden (Morristown, Tenn.) has also been a problem for opponents at the plate both this season (20) and historically. Last season, Hadden drew 57 base on balls and averaged 1.10 walks per game, both ranking in the top three in the nation at the end of the season. Last season, Hadden broke the Belmont all-time record for career walks with his 146th walk of his career. He also holds the most walks in a single season, drawing 61 in 2016 with his mark of 57 last season marking the second most in Belmont history. His 20 walks this season are the second most in the conference. In addition, Belmont has drawn the third most walks in the conference as a team (124).
GARDNER HEATS UP
Senior Devon Gardner (Maryville, Tenn.) has heated up at the plate in recent games. After a slow start to the season, Gardner has notched 15 of his 21 hits in the last eleven games. He has six multi-hit games, including a 3-for-3 outing in game two of the series with Morehead State. He has surged to the top of the Belmont stat sheet, currently boasting the second-best batting average on the squad (.280).
The two teams are no strangers, having met 42 times. Austin Peay leads the overall series 24-18. Last season, the squad's met for a three-game series in Nashville when the Governors won the series 2-1.