EVANSVILLE, Ind. –  Two surging Missouri Valley Conference baseball teams will square off this weekend in Nashville, Tennessee, as the University of Evansville Purple Aces will do battle with the Belmont Bruins at E.S. Rose Park in Nashville.  The series begins on Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. in a game that can be heard live in the Tri-State area on 107.1 FM-WJPS and seen live on ESPN+.

Evansville will bring a 12-16 overall record into the series after knocking off Austin Peay, 13-6, on Tuesday.  The Purple Aces have won three out of the last four games, after winning a Valley series against Southern Illinois and knocking off Austin Peay.  Graduate outfielder Mark Shallenberger continues to lead the UE offensive attack with a .388 batting average.  He enters the weekend ranked 15th nationally in on-base percentage at .549, while also ranking second in NCAA Division I baseball with 17 hit-by-pitches.  Shallenberger enters the weekend needing just two more hit-by-pitches to tie Troy Beilsmith’s UE career record of 51.

Junior outfielder Harrison Taubert and graduate third baseman Brent Widder rank second and third on the team in hitting with .330 and .322 averages respectively.  Taubert currently leads the MVC in hitting in league play with a .524 Valley average, while Widder leads the MVC with 12 doubles.  In fact, Shallenberger, Taubert, Widder and graduate catcher Brendan Hord all rank in the MVC’s top five in doubles this year.

Belmont will bring a 16-13 overall record and 4-2 MVC mark into this weekend’s series after winning its fourth-straight game on Wednesday over Lipscomb.  The Bruins swept Murray State in a three-game Valley series last weekend, led by current MVC Player of the Week Mason Landers.  Landers hit .462 and launched three home runs in the three-game sweep of Murray State.  Overall, Landers ranks second on the team in hitting at .342, while launching a team-best 11 home runs.  Senior outfielder Sam Slaughter leads Belmont in hitting overall with a .379 average on the season.

Belmont leads the all-time series over UE, 18-4, including sweeping a three-game series in Evansville last season.  Evansville played that series short-handed though, as UE played without Shallenberger, 2023 first-team all-MVC second baseman Kip Fougerousse, and 2023 honorable mention all-conference starting pitcher Nick Smith last season.

Freshman left-hander Kenton Deverman (2-1, 4.68) is expected to get the start in Friday’s series opener for UE.  He is expected to be opposed by Belmont’s Will Pryor (3-1, 4.14 ERA).