By Rickey Fuquay, Jr.//Contributing Writer
MURFREESBORO – Middle Tennessee (11-6, 3-0 C-USA) swept its doubleheader with Alabama-Birmingham (10-7, 0-3 C-USA) Sunday, completing the series sweep in its opening series in Conference USA action.
The Blue Raiders won the first game 3-0 and narrowly held on for a 3-2 win in the second game. Both games were shortened to just seven innings instead of the usual nine.
The Blue Raiders used an all-around effort, both offensively and defensively, en route to their second shutout win of the season.
Junior Ronnie Jebavy led the way on offense, going 2-for-3, extending his hitting streak to 13 games. Seniors Michael Adkins and Jake Ingold recorded 1-for-2 games, both tallying an RBI. Senior Austin Bryant also had an RBI in the game, going 1-for-2.
Three other Blue Raiders got in the hit column, as they outhit the Blazers 8-2.
Senior Dustin Delgado failed to get a hit in four at-bats, halting his reached-bases streak at 30 games.
MTSU got on the board first, breaking through with three runs on three-consecutive singles by Adkins, Ingold and Bryant to take an early 3-0 lead in the home half of the third. The Blazers never got on the scoreboard, and the Blue Raiders cruised to the 3-0 victory.
Senior Nate Hoffman (1-1) picked up his first win of the year, pitching five innings of one-hit baseball, striking out five and walking three in his impressive outing.
Senior Kooper Kessler came in and picked up his first save of the year, throwing two scoreless innings in which he gave up only one hit.
Senior Johnny Lieske (1-1) suffered the defeat despite pitching a good game. Lieske threw a complete game for the Blazers, allowing three runs on eight hits, striking out six batters.
MTSU went for the series sweep in the finale.
The Blue Raiders used a go-ahead RBI by Ingold to clinch the sweep in its first C-USA series of the season.
Allen, Adkins and Ingold all picked up an RBI for MTSU. Allen went 1-for-2, while Adkins and Ingold both went 1-for-3. Adkins and Ingold finished the doubleheader with two RBI.
Jebavy failed to get a hit, ending his hitting streak at 13 games.
Schalk and Williams each recorded an RBI for the Blazers. Schalk went 2-for-3 in the game. Tyler Mims and Chase Davis knocked the other two hits for UAB.
The Blazers struck first with an RBI single by Jeff Schalk in the top of the third, but the Blue Raiders came right back with two runs of their own in the bottom of the inning to take a 2-1 advantage.
UAB tied the game in the fourth with an RBI groundout by Mitch Williams. MTSU pushed the winning run across the plate in the sixth. Allen led off the inning with a triple. Two batters later, Ingold hit an RBI groundout to the shortstop that scored Allen.
MTSU held a 3-2 lead heading to the seventh. UAB had runners on second and third with two outs, but senior Nathan Foriest got Nathan Vincent to ground out to end the game, allow MTSU to escape with the 3-2 win, and the series sweep.
Junior Sam Alton notched his second win of the season, pitching two and two-thirds innings of hitless baseball. Junior Garrett Ring made his first start of the season, allowing two runs on four hits in four innings of work.
Senior Nathan Foriest picked up his third save of the year, shutting down the Blazers’ scoring chance in the seventh.
Thomas Lowery fell to 3-1 on the year for UAB. Lowery gave up a run on three hits in two and one-thirds innings of relief. Cory Eller started the game for the Blazers, surrendering two runs on three hits in two and two-thirds innings.
Adam Lau relieved Lowery in the sixth, and did not allow a hit in his one inning of work..
The Blue Raiders will look to carry this momentum to Nashville on Tuesday when they face Belmont in an in-state non-conference matchup. First pitch is slated for 4 p.m. CST.
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