Photo by Brent Beerends | MT Athletics
Middle Tennessee (0-1) opened the 2016 season Friday against Big Ten power Indiana (1-0). The Blue Raiders couldn’t find any sort of rhythm early, falling behind quickly in the first and ultimately lost 14-4.
“Everybody has a plan until you get punched in the mouth,” Head Coach Jim McGuire said. “When it flipped on us and they jumped on us quickly, it was like we weren’t ready for that. I wasn’t expecting it either. That’s the frustrating part and the disappointing part.”
The Hoosiers jumped on Blue Raider starter Nate Hoffman early in the first, scoring four runs, including a two-run homer from Logan Sowers. Sowers and Craig Dedelow showed up early for Indiana, both snagging a pair of RBI’s in their first at-bats.
Hoffman was pulled after the third inning and finished giving up seven runs on eight hits with four strikeouts.
“Very uncharacteristic of him, he was really amped up you know big crowd,” McGuire said. “It just kind of opened it up. He’ll learn from it and get better, I know he’s disappointed.”
Kyle Hart took the mound for the Hoosiers Friday and shut the Blue Raiders down from the get-go. Hart finished with seven strikeouts through five innings, giving up just one hit and one walk in the win.
Hart controlled the plate early and found the strike zone often. The Blue Raiders had their best opportunity early with the bases loaded but three straight strikeouts kept the Hoosiers firmly ahead.
Indiana maintained pressure Friday afternoon, adding runs in bunches, scoring in the first four innings and scoring in 6-of-9 overall.
“We hope it gives us a little more confidence,” McGuire said. “We were not very good offensively, their left-hander was really good. We had that opportunity in the first but when that slipped away from us it seemed like everything spiraled downhill from us.”
The Blue Raiders scratched the surface too little too late in the game, adding runs in the seventh and eighth inning to end the shutout.
Two triples in the seventh inning gave life to the Blue Raider offense as Dupree and Dennis found the outfield grass to score the first runs of the day. Aaron Aucker had one of the better hit balls on the day, a screamer that the shortstop couldn’t catch, scoring the second run for Middle Tennessee.
The Blue Raiders would add another pair of runs in the eighth, a valiant effort from an otherwise poor afternoon. The four runs in the pair of innings was a sign of better things to come from the offense over the weekend.
“We picked it up a little bit at the end,” McGuire said. “Hopefully we can gain a little momentum offensively to get something going tomorrow.”
The Blue Raiders and Hoosiers play Saturday and Sunday at Reese Smith Jr. Field. Saturday’s game gets underway at 2 p.m., pending weather conditions.
To contact Sports Editor Connor Ulrey, email email@example.com.