Raiders defeat Hilltoppers in lightning-delayed game


Riley Delgado connects on a hit during a game against Lipscomb on March 22, 2017 at Reese Smith Jr. Field. (MT Athletic Communications/Brent Beerends)

Photo by Brent Beerends / MT Athletic Communications

The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (8-13, 1-4) defeated the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers in walk-off fashion by a final score of 10-9.

The game began on Saturday at noon due to concerns about the weather and after lightning delayed the game’s conclusion to today, the Blue Raiders managed to stay focused to win their first conference game.

Middle Tennessee used two innings of relief from position players, as Austin Dennis and Drew Huff provided the Blue Raiders with two innings of one-hit, shutout ball.

This allowed the Blue Raider offense to get going in the bottom of the eleventh inning and they did not disappoint, as Riley Delgado drove in the game-winning run on his fourth hit of the game to lead MT to a 10-9 victory.

Huff, Delgado and King lead the offense

Though Delgado led the way with four hits on the day, he was not the only star for Middle Tennessee. Adding to his success on the mound, Huff was also great at the plate, going 3-for-4 with his second home run of the season. He also stroked a double in the second inning that gave the Blue Raiders some offensive life.

Senior Kaleb King was also a key part of the win, driving in four runs on two hits for the game. King was the hero of the ninth inning, as it was his two-run double that brought the Raiders back from the jaws of defeat and sent the game to extras.

King finished his day by scoring the game-winning run on Delgado’s single in the eleventh.

Catcher Chaz Vesser rounded out the Blue Raider quartet with multiple hits by recording two hits of his own, the second of which was a single to move King into scoring position.

The middle of the order struggles to provide any support

With the  solid games provided by the players mentioned above, the Blue Raiders did not get much else from the rest of the lineup. This included a combine 0-for-15 effort from Brad Jarreau, Austin Dennis and Blake Benefield. For the Blue Raiders to continue the momentum of this game moving forward, these three have to be better.

It’s a little more understandable why Jarreau would struggle, as he is just now starting to come back from an injury. Even with that in mind, he’s the senior leader on this team and as he goes, the team goes.

Dennis and Benefield are both trying to build off of strong freshman seasons, in which they each outperformed the expectations set for them. Benefield in particular struggled to make consistent contact this game, striking out three times.

How the Blue Raiders finish this year will be heavily dependent on these three.

MTSU Final stats

 

What’s next?

The Blue Raiders wrap up their series with WKU today at 1 p.m. after the conclusion of the makeup game.

Follow MTSU Baseball beat writers Anthony Fiorella (@A_Fiorella74), Ryan Nixon (@RNixon32), and Stephen Smith (@StEvo_Shield) on Twitter for more coverage.

For more sports stories, follow us on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter and Periscope at @Sidelines_Sport.

To contact Sports Editor Tyler Lamb (@Tlamb35), email sports@mtsusidelines.com.

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