After starting the season 2-1, the Tigers (2-2) are coming off a tough defeat. They traveled to Oxford, Mississippi, to take on No.9 Ole Miss on Tuesday night. Despite coming back late in the game, they came up short and lost 6-8.
Ole Miss started off the game by going up 8-2, but the Tigers fought their way back and fell short of upsetting the high-ranked Rebels. Infielder Kyle O’Keefe led the way for the Tigers with two hits, two RBIs and one home run.
The Tigers will get an opportunity to get back over .500 Friday when they face the Eastern Illinois Panthers (1-2) for a three-game weekend series.
A look at the opponent
After starting the season 0-2, Eastern Illinois finally got their first win on Sunday. Even though they have started off the season relatively slow, every game they have played this season has been a one-score game. This will be the first meeting of the year between the Panthers and the Tigers.
What to watch
A key coming into this game will be if the Tigers can get off to a hot start and pick up where they left off at the end of the game against Ole Miss. If they can carry over the momentum from the end of Tuesday’s game, all bodes well for the Tigers to have a strong showing against the Panthers.
Memphis has started the season .500, but the two games they won were relatively one-sided (4-0 and 7-1). They are coming off three days of rest and will attempt to get their third win of the season against Eastern Illinois.
Both teams are similar in terms of run production. The Panthers average about 4.3 runs a game, which is close to what the Tigers average (4.5). The Tigers will try to control the game early with their pitching and get some hits early against the Panthers.
Although the Panthers are 1-2 this season, they should put up a fight against Memphis. The Panthers’ three games this season have all been close matchups.
Players to watch
Memphis pitcher Jonathan Bowlan
Bowlan will be pitching in Friday’s game and will look to get his first win of the season. He pitched in the Tigers’ loss against Western Kentucky and will attempt to start the Tigers in the right direction. Against Western Kentucky, which has been his only appearance this season, he pitched six innings and only allowed one run with six strikeouts.
Memphis pitcher Alex Hicks
Against Western Kentucky, Hicks led the Tigers to a 7-1 win, and he really played well during the game. This has been Hicks’ only appearance this season, and he hopes to build on his strong performance. Hicks only allowed one run and had five strikeouts in the convincing victory over the Hilltoppers.
Memphis outfielder Evan Bell
Bell, a redshirt freshman, has started off the season hot and has been very critical in the middle of the Tigers’ batting line-up. In Bell’s three games, he has three hits, a homerun and a .429 batting average.
Tyler Webb takes a swing. The Texas native is one of five seniors on the 2018 roster
Outfielder Carlos Williams gets ready to steal third base. The Covington native is one of only five seniors on the 2018 Tigers roster.