By Rickey Fuquay, Jr.//Contributing Writer
MURFREESBORO – After a shaky series opener on Friday, Middle Tennessee rebounded to take the final two games of its series with Louisiana Tech, including a 3-2 win Sunday.
The win gave the Blue Raiders (19-16, 11-4 C-USA) their fourth Conference USA series win in five tries this year. MTSU remains tied for first place with No. 18 Florida Atlantic after the Owls outlasted Florida International for a 5-4 win in 11 innings Sunday.
The bottom of the order came up huge for MTSU. Kaleb King, who batted eighth, led the way on offense with a perfect 3-for-3 day, including a home run (his second of the season) and one RBI. Kevin Dupree, who batted ninth, tallied a 2-for-3 performance. The two accounted for all of the Blue Raiders’ runs, and five of the team’s seven hits. Neither of the two were batting above .217 before the game.
“Baseball’s a game of failure,” said King about his struggles this season. “You’re going to fail most of the time. You just gotta wait for the next pitch. Every out you make, you’re one more out closer to your next home run.”
Brad Jarreau went 1-for-4 in Sunday’s contest, extending his hitting streak to eight games. Jared Allen went 1-for-3.
MTSU struck first on King’s second home run of the year in the third inning. Later in the inning, Dustin Delgado hit an RBI groundout that scored Dupree, giving MTSU the 2-0 lead through three.
The Bulldogs (16-17, 3-11 C-USA) got on the board in the fifth inning after knocking a single to right field that scored Bre’shon Kimbell with the bases loaded. The Blue Raiders responded in the bottom of the inning. Jarreau picked up an RBI on a fielder’s choice that scored King. After five innings, MTSU was ahead, 3-1.
Bryce Stark brought LA Tech within one, 3-2, with an RBI single to right in the seventh inning. However, it was all the Bulldogs could muster. MTSU went on to win the game, 3-2, and take the series.
“This is a huge weekend for us,” said King about the series. “The way we were able to grind though it, and pick up a couple of wins, that was huge for us to stay in first place (in C-USA).”
Blake Stansberry improved to 3-0 on the year. He allowed zero runs on two hits in two innings of relief. Senior Kooper Kessler notched his fourth save of the year, allowing one run on two hits in three innings out of the bullpen.
Tyler Troutt got the nod on the mound Sunday for MTSU. He only pitched four innings, but he only allowed one run on four hits.
Laetten Galbraith (3-5) was saddled with the loss for LA Tech, despite pitching a complete game, allowing three runs on seven hits. He also tallied seven strikeouts.
Middle Tennessee will next look to end its midweek struggles on Tuesday against Tennessee. The Blue Raiders are 0-8 in the midweek. The game is slated for 6 p.m. CST start at Reese Smith Jr. Field.
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