NORFOLK, Va. – The Norfolk State baseball team can clinch its first-ever outright MEAC regular-season divisional title this weekend as the Spartans host Coppin State in a three-game series at Marty L. Miller Field.
NSU (20-13, 16-5 MEAC Northern Division) hosts the Eagles (3-35-2, 2-19) for a doubleheader starting at 1 p.m. Saturday, and the teams cap their regular-season conference slates with a noon game on Sunday.
The Spartans already clinched at least a share of the MEAC North regular-season title, and the No. 1 seed from the division in the MEAC tournament, by winning one out of three games against UMES last weekend in Princess Anne, Md. The Hawks took two of three from NSU in the series – just the second MEAC series defeat for NSU this year and first since March 15-16 at Delaware State – but the Spartans own the tie-breaker with UMES this season. NSU won six of nine regular-season games with the second-place Hawks (13-8 MEAC North).
The Spartans are 6-0 against CSU this season with a pair of three-game series sweeps. NSU outscored the Eagles 37-5 in a three-game set in Maryland two weekends ago.
The balanced Spartans enter this weekend ranked second in the MEAC in both team batting average (.282) and earned-run average (4.43) despite losing three of their last four games. The weekend starting rotation of Matt Outman (6-2, 3.42), Devin Hemmerich (3-3, 2.98) and Stephen Butt (3-1, 2.22) all rank in the MEAC’s top seven in total strikeouts despite missing two weekend starts apiece due to weather earlier this spring. As a team, NSU is fourth in the nation in strikeouts per innings (9.2).
First baseman Ryan Kilmon has been the team’s hottest hitter lately. He now paces the squad with a .344 batting average, eighth-best in the MEAC. He is second in the conference in both slugging and on-base percentage. Outfielder Denathan Dukes is ninth in the league with a .343 average, and infielder Roger Hall is tied for the MEAC lead in RBI, with 33. They lead an offense which is 54thnationally in scoring, at 6.5 runs per game.