Blue Raiders Lose Series to No. 14 Rice, Still First in C-USA


Middle Tennessee's Blue Raiders fail to find answers in their 8-1 loss to Libscomb on Wednesday March 24, 2015.

HOUSTON – It was a hit parade in Houston Sunday afternoon, but Middle Tennessee was not invited.

MTSU (17-13, 9-3 C-USA) notched just three hits in the series finale against No. 14 Rice at Reckling Park, while the Owls (22-12, 11-4) knocked 13 hits and scored 10 runs, leading to a 10-0 blowout.

The loss gave Rice the series victory, but MTSU still sits atop the Conference USA standings.

The Owls got their offense going early, abusing the Blue Raiders’ starter Garrett Ring (0-1) in the first two innings. Ring was pulled in the second inning after allowing six runs on four hits. He struggled with his command Sunday, walking two batters and hitting another two.

All-in-all, Rice scored seven runs in the first two innings, getting out to an early 7-0 lead.

The Blue Raiders went down in order in six of the game’s eight innings, failing to string together hits. The Owls left more runners on base (7) than MTSU had hits (3).

MTSU put runners in scoring position in the first and fifth innings, but were unable to score a run in both instances.

Reliever Nathan Foriest provided quality innings for the Blue Raiders in the middle of the game. After coming in to relieve Ring, Foriest threw four innings, allowing just one run on four hits.

Blake Stansberry pitched the last 2.2 innings of the game. He was effective in the sixth and seventh innings, but was roughed up in the eighth, allowing three runs on three hits in the inning. These three runs provided the 10-0 final score in favor of Rice.

Brad Jarreau, Jake Ingold and Austin Norrell all went 1-for-3 in Sunday’s contest, accounting for the Blue Raiders only three hits.

Rice’s Jordan Stephens (3-2) kept MTSU in check in as he picked up the win. He threw six innings of three-hit shutout baseball. He also struck out eight Blue Raider batters.

Matt Ditman shut the Blue Raiders down in the seventh and eighth, throwing two perfect innings, and striking out three.

Ford Stainback (3-for-5, 2B, RBI) and Charlie Warren (3-for-5, 2B, 4 RBI) both led the attack for Rice. Leon Byrd (2-for-4, RBI) and Connor Teykl (2-for-3, 2 RBI) also produced multi-hit efforts. The Owls tallied 13 hits in total Sunday.

Sunday’s game marked the third time that the Blue Raiders have been shutout this season, and it was the 12th time they have scored two runs or fewer.

Middle Tennessee will look to end its midweek struggles in its next matchup. The Blue Raiders will host Tennessee Tech on Tuesday. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. CST.

For more Blue Raiders sports, follow us at www.mtsusidelines.com, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter at @Sidelines_Sport.

To contact sports editor Connor Grott, email sports@mtsusidelines.com or follow him on Twitter at @Connor_Grott.

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