MT Baseball drops Saturday Matinee against WKU

MURFRESBORO, Tenn. — Middle Tennessee baseball threw its bats early Saturday at Reese Smith Jr. Field. But a cold midday helped bring about a late rally that came to nothing, as the Blue Raiders dropped Game 2 of their series against Western Kentucky 7-3.

After scoring two runs late in the second, the Blue Raiders (12-14, 4-4 C-USA) failed to score in the next five frames, allowing the Hilltoppers (10-16, 2-6 C-USA) -USA) to quickly build on a lead they took in the fourth inning and never gave up the rest of the way.

“I’ll give credit to their pitcher. He only walked one guy and we walked eight, that’s the difference in the game,” the head coach said. Jim Tomman noted. “After the third inning, we didn’t hit again until the ninth.”

Erik Swan suffered its fourth loss of the season on Saturday, walking four Hilltoppers and striking out four while allowing four runs, three of which were earned, in four innings of work. Jaden Hamm started strong in relief, throwing three scoreless frames in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, but lost control of the zone late to give up three earned runs while walking four batters and striking out six in five innings pitched.

J.T. Mabry and Jackson Galloway continued to swing hot bats at the top of the lineup, combining five of MT’s nine hits. Mabry went 3 for 4 with an RBI, while Galloway scored a run while going 2 for 4. Fausto Lopez scored a run and drove a run at the top of the Blue Raider lineup, going 1 for 3.

“Kudos to him, he was throwing when he had to,” Lopez said of Hilltopper starter Devyn Terbrak. “Generally we don’t like to miss some of the pitches we missed today, so now is the time to get back to the drawing board and win tomorrow’s game.”

MT went three innings, sixth, seventh and eighth, without recording a single hit, Lopez being the team’s only baserunner during that streak with a walk.

“(Terbrak) picked up a bit of a pace,” Toman said. “He was throwing a little breakout ball slowly, then it was 88-89, pretty fast fastball, then he had a good change. We had some guys early and he was throwing that change and we were rolling on it or out.”

After the Hilltoppers drew first blood, pushing on a run high in second and high in third, the Blue Raiders launched their attack low in third. Brian Dillingham hit a single down the middle, setting up a Lopez double on the left field wall after a seven-at-bat, tackling Dillingham from first. J.T. Mabry followed Lopez with his own RBI brace, coring the right field wall to tie the game at 2-2.

Western Kentucky veered on two extra runs in the top of the fourth to regain the lead, enjoying a first walk and three hits, but excellent Blue Raider defense helped pull MT out of the block and limit WKU to a 4-2 lead. Dillingham, starting from right field, drilled Brett Blomquist trying to move from first to third on a single for the first out of the inning. Then Lopez leapt into the air to catch a line drive from Tristin Garcia at short range, first passing the Hilltopper runner to end the scoring threat.

“I had good help from my teammates, I saw it well and a few guys were screaming to step back, so I was able to time it pretty well,” Lopez said. “I’m glad I caught him a little off guard.”

WKU added one more to their tally in the top of the eighth, but the defense once again saved another run for the Blue Raiders. Mason Spiers appeared to kick the runner out at second on a steal with runners in the corners, but Lopez quickly clipped the pitch as he covered the sack and fired it right away, easily catching the sprinting Hilltopper at the home, keeping the WKU’s lead. at 5-2. The Hilltoppers would get another RBI single in the frame, however, to increase their lead to 6-2.

After a top of the ninth bomb from WKU, Middle Tennessee was able to load the bases with no one down 7-2 late in the ninth. One point Galloway fell on a defender’s choice, but Mason Vinyard managed to get out of trouble and end the game at 7-3.

Middle Tennessee will look to win the rubber game of the series tomorrow afternoon at the Reese on Blue Raider Kids Club day. The first pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.

“There’s a very well-known saying in college baseball, ‘Champions win Sunday,’ because it’s either a rubber game, or you’re trying to avoid getting swept, or you’re trying to take the series,” a Lopez said. “So at the end of the day the champions win on Sunday and we just have to find a way to do it no matter how.”