By Rickey Fuquay, Jr.//Contributing Writer
MURFREESBORO – Middle Tennessee used a six-run eighth inning to storm back and defeat Louisiana Tech, 8-6, Saturday afternoon at Reese Smith Jr. Field.
With the win, the Blue Raiders (18-16, 10-4 C-USA) remained tied for first place in Conference USA with Florida Atlantic, after FAU defeated Florida International, 8-3, earlier on Saturday.
Ronnie Jebavy led the way on offense with a 3-for-4 effort, including an RBI. Jared Allen also tallied multiple hits, with a 2-for-3 performance and two RBI.
Brad Jarreau went 1-for-5 with an RBI. Dustin Delgado, Jake Ingold, Austin Bryant and Kaleb King each tallied one hit on multiple attempts.
The error bug struck again as the Bulldogs (16-16, 3-10 C-USA) capitalized on four errors by MTSU to take an early 4-0 lead heading to the bottom of the fifth inning.
It seemed as though the errors would come back to haunt the Blue Raiders again Saturday. However, after struggling to get their offense going, the Blue Raiders got on the board thanks to an RBI double by Jebavy in the fifth.
They drew closer when Allen knocked an RBI single to pull to within two, 4-2, heading to the top of the eighth inning. MTSU needed a rally.
Then, it happened. The Blue Raiders cracked four hits and tallied six runs in the bottom of the eighth to take an 8-4 advantage. The runs proved to be crucial as the Bulldogs made a rally in the ninth, scoring two runs and loading the bases. MTSU was able to hold them off though, winning the game, 8-6.
Blake Stansberry improved to 2-0 on the year. He pitched a perfect two-thirds of an inning in the eighth to pick up the win. Kooper Kessler recorded his third save of the year after getting the last out in a bases-loaded jam.
Nate Hoffmann got the start for MTSU and allowed four runs (one earned) on five hits, striking out a career-high five batters in a career-high seven and one-third innings of work. He received a no-decision.
Adam Atkins fell to 1-3 on the year for LA Tech. He allowed four runs on three hits in two-thirds of an inning.
The Blue Raiders will look to clinch the series when the two teams meet in a rubber match on Sunday afternoon. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m. CST. Tyler Troutt (0-2, 4.79) ERA) will start Sunday.
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