By Connor Grott
Assistant Sports Editor
A one hour, 26 minute rain delay proved to be the biggest enemy for Middle Tennessee (22-22, 11-10 C-USA) on Sunday afternoon, with the Old Dominion Monarchs (26-18, 13-11 C-USA) scoring three runs in the final, rain-shortened seventh inning to give ODU a 4-3 win over the Blue Raiders.
Due to the weather delay, the matchup was reduced to seven innings, providing a large momentum swing to the Monarchs with the bases loaded after play resumed.
“It’s a tough game,” Jim McGuire, MT head coach said. “Everything was going in the right direction until the rain delay. Unfortunately, [the weather delay] just came at a bad time.
Even with the loss, Middle still claims a 2-1 series win over the Monarchs, the first C-USA series win for the Blue Raiders since March 28-30 against then-No. 10 Rice.
Johnathan Frebis pitched 6.1 innings in a no-decision, giving up four hits and three runs, two earned, in Sunday’s game. Frebis tied his career-high with seven strikeouts, hitting that mark for the fourth time in his career and first time since March 31, 2012, against South Alabama.
“This was one of the better outings that [Frebis] has had,” McGuire said. “I thought this was as good as he’s been in a while and we really needed that. It was disappointing that he ended up with the no-decision, but I was pleased with the way he threw.”
Old Dominion would score the first run of the game on a wild pitch by Frebis in the top of the third. The Blue Raiders used a two-run fourth to take a 2-1 lead following a balk by ODU’s Victor Diaz and an RBI double by catcher Michael Adkins (1-for-3, RBI).
MT would tally an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth after a Dustin Delgado (1-for-4, RBI) double knocked in Jake Ellison for a 3-1 MT lead.
Frebis would be chased midway through the seventh inning with Kooper Kessler coming into the matchup in a save situation following his first save of the season in Saturday night’s matchup.
Kessler (2-2) would allow the eventual three winning runs in the seventh to pick up the loss, giving up a two-RBI double to ODU’s Ben Slaton. P.J. Higgins would plate the go-ahead run on a sac-fly to right field, scoring Nick Walker from third base.
“We made up our mind that we were going to go to Kessler right away because of the previous night,” McGuire said. “But then the rain started to come down, and it was hard on him. He got [Walker] in a 1-2 count and ended up walking him as the downpour came. It was just bad timing.”
Brad Gero would enter the game in a save situation, giving up a leadoff single to Austin Bryant. Gero would respond with three consecutive strikeouts to earn his ninth save of the season. Conner Overton (2-1) picked up his second win of the season.
MT will have two mid-week games against non-conference opponents University of Tennessee-Knoxville and Austin Peay before facing UTSA in a pivotal three-game series. The Blue Raiders will take on UTK April 29 at 5 p.m. CT and Austin Peay at 6 p.m. CT on April 30.
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