MURFREESBORO – Middle Tennessee (12-16, 1-10 C-USA) continued its struggles in conference play, dropping both games in its doubleheader with Texas-San Antonio (23-13, 7-5 C-USA) Saturday.
UTSA’s offense was too much for MTSU, as it lost the first game, 11-8, and the second game, 13-5.
The first two innings of the opener went by quietly for both teams. Both teams erupted in the third inning though, scoring seven runs combined.
The Roadrunners plated three in the top of the inning. Their lead did not last long. The Blue Raiders tallied four runs in the home half of the third.
The big blow came with two outs and two runners on. Junior Megan Griffith ripped a double to left field that scored freshman Morgan Harris and sophomore Austyn Whaley. The hit gave MTSU the 4-3 advantage.
The fourth and sixth innings saw UTSA tack on three runs in both innings. After six innings, the Roadrunners held a commanding 9-4 lead.
In the seventh, UTSA tallied two more runs of insurance, pushing its lead to 11-4. The two runs proved to be very important.
MTSU rallied in the bottom of the inning. With two outs in the inning, and its hopes dwindling, MTSU’s Harris blasted a two-run shot, her second of the year, to bring the Blue Raiders within five, 11-6.
Juniors Carlie Jenkins and Randi Cookus hit back-to-back singles after the home run to continue the rally. Birdsong nailed a single through the right side, driving in Jenkins. Cookus scored on a throwing error by UTSA, cutting the deficit to 11-8.
The rally ended, however, when senior Alma Cortez struck out swinging. The strikeout ended the game, and the rally, giving UTSA the 11-8 victory.
Four Blue Raiders had two hits in the game. Senior Samantha Nieves (2=for-3), sophomore Lauren Riddell (2-for-4), Harris (2-for-3, HR, 3 RBI) and Jenkins )2-for-3) all had two hits.
Senior starter Caitlin McClure fell to 3-4 on the season. She threw three and one-thirds innings in the circle Saturday, allowing six runs (five earned) on five hits.
Relievers Megan Chocallo and Mackenzie Price gave up three runs and two runs, respectively.
Chelsea Parker earned the victory in relief for UTSA. She improved her record to 8-3 on the season, throwing four innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits. Kacy Freeze nailed down her first save of the year, striking out Cortez to end the game.
The Blue Raiders’ hopes of salvaging a split in the doubleheader go away, as the Roadrunners’ offense could not be stopped.
MTSU got on the board first with an RBI single by Griffith in the bottom of the first that scored Nieves.
UTSA tied the game in the second inning, but Griffith struck again in the third to give MTSU the lead back. Her two-RBI double scored Nieves and Birdsong, giving the Blue Raiders a 3-1 advantage.
It was the last lead MTSU saw in the game. The Roadrunners scored four runs in both the fourth and fifth innings. After the two four-run outbursts, the Roadrunners led 9-3.
In the bottom of the fifth, Cookus doubled to left to score Jenkins. Then, with the bases loaded, Birdsong coaxed a walk, plating sophomore Austyn Whaley. The two runs narrowed the margin to four, 9-5. It was all MTSU could muster though.
Two runs in both the sixth and seventh innings for UTSA sealed the deal. The Roadrunners took the game, and the doubleheader, 13-5.
Nieves (2-for-4), sophomore Marinna Shadley (3-for-5), Griffith (2-for-4, 3 RBI) and Jenkins (2-for-4) led MTSU’s offensive attack. Birdsong (1-for-4, RBI) and Cookus (1-for-4, RBI) provided the rest of the offense.
Junior starter Kelci Cheney (7-10) was roughed up in this one. Cheney suffered through four innings of work, giving up seven runs on 10 hits. McClure allowed four runs on four hits in one and one-third of an inning of relief. Freshman Pattie Taylor got her first-career appearance on the mound for MTSU, as she two runs (one earned) on one hit in one and two-thirds innings.
Freeze (7-3) earned the complete-game victory for UTSA. She five runs on (four earned) on 12 hits. She struck out nine and walked four in the win.
Middle Tennessee will hope to pick up a win in the series finale Sunday. The first pitch is slated for noon CST.
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