CHARLOTTE, N.C. – MTSU traveled to Charlotte in first place, and left in first place.
The Blue Raiders trailed in both games of Saturday’s doubleheader against the 49ers in Charlotte, but found a way in the late stages to earn the sweep and remain atop the standings in Conference USA.
The Blue Raiders (23-16, 14-4 C-USA) entered Saturday after winning game one of the weekend series on Friday night in 11 innings, and were looking to capitalize early in game two to take the overall series.
Ronnie Jebavy, MTSU’s leading hitter all season, provided the spark once more after powering a solo home run to left field to put the Blue Raiders up 1-0 in the first.
The Blue Raiders’ lead was short lived as Charlotte (13-20, 7-14 C-USA) responded in the bottom of the first, putting a four-spot on the board to give the 49ers a 4-1 lead after one inning.
Logan Sherer, who drove in a pair for the 49ers in the first, added another run for Charlotte in the third after hitting a homer off Blue Raider starter Nathan Hoffman.
Kevin Dupree found his game in the fourth inning for the Blue Raiders, hitting a two-run homer to right field off Charlotte starting pitcher J.D. Prochaska to close the gap to a two-run deficit.
The 49ers once again added a hopeful insurance run in the sixth when catcher Nick Daddio doubled to right, extending the lead to 6-3 for Charlotte.
The Blue Raiders were not done yet, especially Dupree.
Dupree homered again in the eighth inning, his second of the game, to bring the deficit back to two runs.
With just two outs left and trailing by two runs, Kaleb King came up big for MTSU with a single through the left side to score the tying runs for the Blue Raiders.
Dupree solidified his place as player of the game after scoring the go-ahead and eventual winning run after singling through the right side to score Austin Bryant.
Sam Alton earned his second save of the year, slamming the door in the bottom of the ninth to give the Blue Raiders the game two win in the series.
Garrett Ring earned the win for the Blue Raiders, which was his first of the year. Ring pitched an inning and two-thirds of relief work, while giving up no hits.
Brandon Vogler took the loss for the 49ers, giving up four runs in just two and two-thirds of an inning.
Tyler Troutt took the mound for the Blue Raiders in the final game of the series in the hopes of earning a sweep.
Charlotte once again found offense quickly, putting up five runs in the first two innings to give the 49ers an early 5-0 lead over the Blue Raiders.
Just like the first two games in the series, the Blue Raiders’ offense came to life with their backs against the wall.
MTSU’s Jared Allen scored a pair of runs off a single up the middle in the sixth, and Jake Ingold homered to center field to plate two more to cut the deficit to two heading into the seventh.
Brad Jarreau knotted the game up at five apiece in the seventh, doubling down the left field line to score Michael Adkins.
The Blue Raider offense kept churning in the eighth as Ingold scored on a wild pitch to give MTSU its first lead of the game, 6-5.
The 49ers would not go down without a fight, however, as T.J. Nichting tied the game with a double to right center.
Allen capitalized for MTSU in the top of the ninth after hitting a sacrifice fly to center to score the go-ahead run. The Blue Raiders added one more run after catcher interference was called.
Leading 8-6 in the bottom of the ninth, MTSU closer Nathan Foriest was called on to shut down the 49ers’ side of the inning.
Foriest made quick work in the ninth, striking out one batter and forcing two ground outs in earning his sixth save of the year.
Jebavy followed his solid game two performace by going 3-for-5 in game three, including a pair of doubles. Allen led the Blue Raiders offensively, going 2-for-4 with three RBI in the game.
Blake Stansberry was solid for the Blue Raiders in relief, pitching two and two thirds of an inning while striking out two batters and not allowing a hit.
Alton, who picked up the save in game two, earned the win in game three. The win, his fifth of the year, came with one inning of work, giving up just one run on one hit.
The Blue Raiders have a couple days off before heading to Hawkins Field for a rematch with SEC foe Vanderbilt on Tuesday. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CT.
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