Home run record tied by Kirby-Jones, but Tech falls to MTSU

Kirby-Jones ties his own school record with his 20th home run of the season

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Middle Tennessee State launched four home runs Tuesday night in Bush Stadium, including a grand slam by Justin Miller in a six-run seventh inning on the way to a 13-9 non-conference victory over Tennessee Tech.

The top fielding team in the Ohio Valley Conference, the Golden Eagles committed three errors in the contest and all three led to Blue Raider runs. Only five of the 13 runs scored by Middle Tennessee (30-18) were earned.

Tech (23-22 overall) now turns its undivided attention to a crucial OVC series this weekend at UT Martin, with a twinbill Saturday and a single game Sunday.

Blake McDade reached bas six times in the game, including a 4-for-5 hitting performance that featured two doubles and a home run. Will Skinner was 3-for-4 with a home run and leadoff hitter Zach Hunter also collected three of Middle's 15 hits.

A.J. Kirby-Jones had a double and a home run, his 20th of the season to tie his own school single-season record. Cassanova Donaldson was 3-for-4, while Ben Burgess and Chad Hayes also had two hits apiece. 

MTSU scored two in the third and Tech matched in the bottom of the frame on Kirby-Jones' home run, the first hit of the contest for Tech.

Solo home runs by McDade and Tyler Burnett put the Blue Raiders on top 4-2 in the top of the fifth and, once again, the Golden Eagles responded. This time Tech scored five runs to take a 7-4 lead.

Tate McMillan walked and Kirby-Jones doubled to start the rally. Oberacker's sacrifice bunt scored McMillan, and Burgess laced an RBI single up the middle to tie the game at 4-4.

Donaldson singled and Devin Rivers was hit by a pitch, setting the stage for Chad Hayes' two-run double. A sacrifice fly by Frankie Beech scored the fifth run of the frame.

After cutting the deficit to 7-6 with a pair of runs in the sixth, MTSU broke the game open with six runs in the seventh. A two-out error prolonged the inning, bringing Miller to the plate with the bases loaded. The leading home run hitter in the Sun Belt Conference, he blasted his 17th home run over the center field fence for a 12-7 lead.

Tech trimmed it to 12-9 in the bottom of the seventh. Burgess and Donaldson singled, and Rivers poked an RBI single to make it 12-8. A fielder's choice groundout allowed Donaldson to score, but that was all Tech could muster.

A solo home run by Skinner in the eight accounted for the final score.

Oberacker (1-3) was tagged with the loss in relief. He pitched 1 2/3 innings and allowed six runs on four hits, only one of which was earned. He walked two and struck out three.

Tech used five pitchers in the game. Nick Price tossed the first four innings, walked three and struck out three, allowing two runs and five hits. Matthew Shepherd, Stephen Pryor and Wade Bilbrey also logged time on the hill.

For MTSU, Hunter Dawson (5-0) was credited with the win. The middle of five pitchers, Dawson worked 2 2/3 innings. MSTU starter Hunter Adkins worked from behind in the count for much of his four innings. He threw 83 pitches through his four innings, 41 for strikes, while walking six.