Seventh inning stretch favors MTSU; Golden Eagles fall 6-5
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Senior Chad Oberacker drove in four of Tech's five runs in Wednesday's nightcap in Murfreesboro, but the Golden Eagle's efforts at the plate weren't enough to overcome the Blue Raider's four-run seventh inning that gave them a 6-4 lead and the eventual 6-5 win.
Blue Raider starter Jud Stoltz and his reliever Brandon Hall combined for four strikeouts in four innings of work, allowing only two hits and holding the Golden Eagles scoreless through four. MTSU's line-up, however, racked up a 2-0 lead over four innings, putting their first run on the board in the bottom of the second on two hits by Will Skinner and Davis Pearce.
Middle jumped ahead by two in the bottom of the fourth on an unearned run when, with two outs up, Dain McNabb singled to Chad Hayes at shortstop and advanced to second when a fielding error put Pearce on board. Ryan Ford punched one through the left side to send McNabb across the plate and clinch the 2-0 lead.
But while Hall was able to hold the Tech batting order to just one hit in the fourth, leaving two men stranded on base, he was less fortunate in the fifth inning as Tech rallied with a four-run swing, jumping on top of MTSU, 4-2.
Hall walked three straight batters in Michael Morris (pictured), Austin Wulf and Ben Burgess to start off the fifth inning before being replaced by Cody Tollison and unfortunately shouldered the burden of all three earned runs when Oberacker ripped a bases-clearing triple down the right-field line to put the Golden Eagles on top, 3-2.
Casanova Donaldson tacked another run on to the lead on a sacrifice fly that worked to bring Oberacker home for a 4-2 lead.
Tech's first man out of the bullpen, Andy Williams, replaced starter Nick Price in the third inning and saw just one of MTSU's initial two runs score, striking out three and walking one through four straight innings. The seventh inning stretch got the best of Williams though, as the top of the MTSU order led off in the top of the seventh with four straight hits.
Lead-off man Jordan Rorex started with a single to left field but was caught trying to stretch a double for the first out of the inning. However, Johnny Thomas and Hank LaRue each had base hits to follow, and triple by Skinner ended up clearing the bases completely, as Skinner send both runners home and scored himself on a fielding error, putting the Blue Raiders back on top, 5-4.
Skinner finished the game going 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs scored to fuel the Blue Raider brigade, while Pearce contributed with a 2-for-3 effort and a one RBI.
Jared Dobbs entered the game with one out and the bases empty, but faced only two batters as he promptly walked Matthew Drake and allowed Justin Guidry, the six-hole hitter and sixth batter of the inning, to rip a single into left field to push pinch runner Ryan Stephens to third. Reliever Justin Alexander surrendered a sacrifice bunt for the fourth run of the inning before inducing a groundout to get himself out of the damaging inning.
Down 6-4, the Golden Eagles were able to cut the lead to one when Morris singled to left field and moved to second on Austin Wulf's groundout, putting him in position to score on Oberacker's second hit of the day, a two-out, RBI single to first base. Clean-up hitter Zach Stephens was unable to keep the momentum going though, as his strikeout ended the inning and the game with a final score of 6-5 to the Blue Raiders.
Oberacker led Tech at the plate with a 2-for-5 effort that yielded four RBI, while Michael Morris batted a perfect 2-for-2, walked once and was hit by a pitch once.
Tech, now 13-18 on the season, will head to Eastern Illinois for their first conference series on the road this weekend. They'll play a twinbill on Saturday, with the first pitch slated for 1 p.m.