MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
ended Tennessee Tech's season-long five-game winning streak Tuesday
night, claiming an 11-5 victory in Floyd Smith Stadium.
The host Blue Raiders (23-14) knocked out 16 hits off five Golden Eagle pitchers, and used a four-run seventh inning to crack open a close game.
Tech (18-20) returns home this weekend to host Morehead State for a three-game Ohio Valley Conference series in Bush Stadium.
Justin Miller went 3-for-5 to pace MTSU, drivin in three runs including a two-run home run in the seventh. Tyler Acker also had three hits and added two RBI.
Junior A.J. Kirby-Jones was on base safely in four of his five trips to the plate, including three walks. Cassanova Donaldson was the lone Golden Eagle with more than one hit, going 2-for-4.
Starter Matt Shepherd and the Golden Eagles fell behind, 2-0, in the first inning when Justin Guidry stepped in with a neat 2-run single to right field.
Patience at the plate paid off for Tech in the third inning as the Golden Eagles tied the contest with two runs. Austin Wulf and Kirby-Jones both walked, and Chad Oberacker doubled down the right field line, scoring Wulf and advancing Kirby-Jones to third. A sacrifice fly by Ben Burgess sent Kirby-Jones home to tie the game at two-all.
MSTU scored twice in bottom of the fourth, but the Golden Eagles
dodged a bullet when Tristan Archer came
on in relief and stranded two Blue Raider runners.
Tech tied the game again at 4-4 in the top of the fifth with hits from Kirby-Jones, Burgess and Casanova Donaldson, and a fielding error by MTSU.
MTSU added single runs in the fifth and sixth innings to take a
two run lead at 6-4, and Tech rebounded with a single run in the
top of the seventh to make it 6-5. A walk to Kirby-Jones and an
error put him in scoring postition, and an RBI groundout by Burgess
closed the gap to one run.
The real damage was done in the seventh inning by MTSU, which plated four runs on four hits to take a 10-5 lead. Tyler Burnett greeted reliever Ryan Hopkins with a double and Miller followed with a two-run homer. A double and a walk brought another Tech pitching change, but Wade Bilbrey yielded a wild pitch and a two-run double by Ryan Ford widened the difference to five runs.
Kirby-Jones stepped in got Tech out of the inning, getting a bases loaded strkeout to end the inning.
Kevin Whittaker (3-3) worked the final 4 2/3 innings to get the
win. He shut down the final six Tech batters while MTSU added one
more run in the bottom of the eighth to make it a six-run game.
Shepherd (1-1) was charged with the loss.