MURFREESBORO – Middle Tennessee used four strong innings from Sam Alton and some timely offense to earn their first midweek win, a 7-5 victory over Tennessee Tuesday night.
“This will be the first time we’re going into a conference weekend off of a win,” Coach Jim McGuire joked after the game. “It’s big because it’s against Tennessee, but it’s even bigger because it’s a midweek win.”
The Volunteers jumped out early with an Andrew Lee home run to left in the first inning. Lee’s home run, his fourth of the year, put Tennessee up 2-0 early, and put Blue Raider starter Garrett Ring in a jam.
Ring settled down, pitching a pair of solid innings in the second and third, setting up the Blue Raiders’ offense.
Down 2-1 in the third, Jake Ingold singled up the middle, scoring a pair of runs that put MTSU up 3-2. Ring struggled in the fourth, giving up another two runs, ending his night as Sam Alton came on in relief.
“He pitched a great third inning, and we came back and scored the three and took the lead,” Coach McGuire spoke about Ring. “He’s gotta go out and stop them, and he didn’t, and that’s what got him in trouble.”
Sam Alton (4-1) was huge for the Blue Raiders (20-16 in relief, pitching four no-hit innings on his way to a win.
“He was huge,” McGuire said after the game. “He came in a tough situation. I thought he was outstanding. We’ve got to have him back on the weekend; we need that extra depth on the mound.”
The Volunteers (15-17) scored a pair of runs in the fourth to take the lead, 4-3. Two innings later, the Blue Raiders tied the game on a sacrifice fly from Brad Jarreau, scoring Michael Adkins in the sixth.
Mistakes from the Volunteers in the seventh opened the door for the Blue Raiders. A passed ball and a wild pitch allowed two MTSU runners to score. MTSU scored three runs in total in the inning, taking a 7-4 lead.
Nathan Foriest struggled in relief of Alton, giving up a run in the top of the eighth. He was replaced by right-hander Blake Stansberry, who had picked up two wins this past weekend in MTSU’s series with LA Tech.
Stansberry delivered once again for the Blue Raiders, closing the door in the eighth and ninth, earning his first save of the season.
“Over the weekend he gets a win Saturday and a win Sunday, and then gets the save tonight,” said McGuire. “He’s a critical part of what we’re trying to do. As a freshman, he understands more of what he’s got to do. Pitching against his hometown team, being from Knoxville, to be able to do that against Tennessee is big for him, and of course big for us.”
Middle Tennessee heads to Charlotte, N.C. Friday for a three-game series against the 49ers. Game one is set to begin on Friday at 5 p.m. CST.
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