The Western Kentucky baseball team opens its conference slate this weekend at Middle Tennessee. I spoke with coach Matt Myers and senior center fielder Jared Andreoli about the transition to Sun Belt play, injuries and playing loose.
Myers confirmed that junior pitcher Tanner Perkins won’t pitch this weekend and hasn’t picked up a baseball since making a precautionary early exit from Friday’s game with tightness in his forearm.
Perkins was scheduled to meet with doctors today for a arthrogram imaging test, Myers said, and the Tops will decide a course of action for the pitcher once they know what his injury action is.
In the meantime, sophomore Justin Hageman will slide into the Friday night role. How that game goes will determine when Myers tosses junior Tim Bado, Myers said, and then he’ll decide the weekend’s third starter based on matchups.
Here are some comments from Myers and Andreoli:
“It’s a huge weekend for us. You’re playing your rival and you’re opening conference play. Last year, we were on the positive side of both series, and they’ll want redemption for that. They’re playing much better this year.”
On MTSU’s strengths: “Their pitchers are throwing it really well, and in their ballpark, it doesn’t matter what your offensive numbers are because offensive guys can be rewarded in that hitter’s ballpark. It’s going to be a big assignment for our offense, and they don’t need to score a lot of runs with the way they’re pitching.”
On playing better since the Kent State series: “Evansville was a lapse, and I thought the ninth inning of the (Western Illinois) series was a lapse. But other than that, it’s been pretty clean baseball.”
On losing Perkins for now: “We’re already at a thin pitching staff, so our margin for error there is a little bit smaller. Our offense has to help us out.”
More on Perkins’ injury: “We’ll get the readings and go for there. But regardless of whether it comes back clean or not – with an arthrogram, it takes the arm a while to respond from that kind of procedure. He hasn’t even picked up a baseball, so it’d be unfair to ask him to pitch this weekend. It’s day by day with him, and once we find out what the injury is, we’ll put together a course of action.”
“It seems like injuries have been part of our season all year. I would’ve loved to be 100 percent because I think this team is special when everybody’s there, but it’s just not meant to be right now. But that’s not going to stop Middle from trying to kick your fanny.”
On needing to play loose: “We’ve been trying to be perfect. Since we’ve had injuries, one guy will go, ‘Oh, I can do more than what I’m capable of.’ But you can’t do that. This weekend will take everybody and some people stepping up, but not one guy is going to go in there and win this series for us.”
“The season so far has all been leading up to conference, so this is when we need to start playing better than we have been. (Tuesday’s) game showed what we’re capable of doing, so hopefully we can carry that in.”
On playing better since Kent State series: “We’ve had some talks amongst the team. You just had to play better. Now the weather’s getting nice, it starts to feel a little more like baseball and hopefully that correlates a little more into wins.”
Needing to play loose: “I think early on, people were a little tentative and afraid to make mistakes. Everybody knows you’re going to make mistakes and make outs when you don’t want to. You just have to let it fly. These coaches aren’t going to really get on you if you make a mistake. They’ve been there.”