Photo courtesy of Brent Beerends // MTSU Athletics
Middle Tennessee baseball is currently tied for last place in Conference USA with a 14-15 overall record and a 2-7 record in conference play, but the Blue Raiders have had a bright spot amidst their sluggish start to the season.
It comes in the form of MTSU junior shortstop Riley Delgado.
Before Delgado transferred to MTSU, he was raking in hits with Columbia State Community College in Clifton, Tennessee. Delgado batted .370 with the Chargers last season, driving in 25 RBI and scoring 43 runs.
In 2016, MTSU’s lead-off hitter is continuing his success, batting a team-high .364 this season with an on-base percentage of .469.
“My job as the lead-off guy is to get on base for the guys behind me, and they’ll do their job,” Delgado said. “I think it’s really important to be on base for them, and to give the team an opportunity to score.”
MTSU head coach Jim McGuire has emphasized the importance of Delgado in the Blue Raiders’ lineup all season, and McGuire said that if it weren’t for Delgado, their offense would not be nearly as productive.
“[Delgado] went through a little drought about a week ago where he wasn’t swinging it quite as well, but he started to come out of it a little more this weekend,” McGuire said about Delgado. “We need him to be our catalyst at the top of the lineup to keep turning that lineup over and keep producing runs over at the top.”
Delgado is currently ninth in batting average and fifth in on-base percentage in Conference USA, but he says there’s nothing special he’s doing to find success at the dish.
“It’s really just seeing and hitting it. I mean it’s as simple as it gets, and I feel like I’m throwing my hands more than I ever have. I don’t know, but it’s just happening,” Delgado said.
McGuire noted that Delgado struggled some over the course of last weekend’s series against conference rival Rice, totaling just three hits in three games, but he’s been working through his struggles with coaches all week.
“[Delgado’s] really worked hard in practice to keep making adjustments, and [against Austin Peay] it paid off for him,” McGuire said. “These last couple weeks he’s been staying through the ball a little bit better.
“I think his swing was a little bit off, and I think his pitch selection, his approach, was almost being a little too patient at times. Whereas [against Austin Peay], you could see he was more aggressive and he went after the ball a lot better.”
When asked about his team-highs in batting average and on-base percentage, Delgado responded by saying it’s all about his team’s success, not his own.
“We’re 14-15 and we just need to stay with it,” Delgado said. “I’m not really too concerned with what I do as long as we get wins. That’s what I’m really focused on.”
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