Raiders win 9-7 to take series with Kennesaw State


Photo by Darwin Moore / MTSU Sidelines

The MTSU Blue Raiders won 9-7 in their final outing of the three-game weekend home set against the Kennesaw State Owls Sunday afternoon.  With the win, MTSU picked up their first home series win at Reese Smith Jr. Field of the young season.

The ballgame started out with a few lead changes throughout the first four innings.  Each team scored a run in the first followed by a run in the second from Kennesaw State.

In the bottom of the third, the Raiders struck back to tie the game. Kennesaw State grabbed two more runs in the fourth, followed by another Raider run in the fifth that made it 4-3.

In the sixth and seventh, the MTSU was able to take the lead for good, scoring a combined six runs to give them a 9-4 lead.

The Owl’s scored three more runs in the 8th, but Tyler Holcombe came in and shut the door to collect his third save of the season.

Dennis’ four-RBI game propels Raiders to victory

Austin Dennis connects with the ball during the first inning of a game against Kennesaw State on Sunday, March 4, 2017. (MTSU Sidelines/Darwin Moore)

Centerfielder Austin Dennis tied a career-high in hits today with four.  Dennis went 4-4 with four RBI, a homerun, and a walk, boosting his season average to .351 through the first 10 games.

In the first inning, Dennis doubled to right field to knock in Riley Delgado to tie the game up at one apiece.

In his second plate appearance in the third, Dennis singled in the hole between the first and second baseman to tie the game up at 2-2.

In Dennis’ third plate appearance, he sent his second homerun of the season off of the Lee Victory Wall of Champions in left field to bring the Raiders to within one.

Dennis came to the plate one again in the seventh, needing just a triple to complete the cycle. He ended up producing in another way by singling and knocking in the Raiders ninth, and final run.

Dennis punished Owl pitching all afternoon.

“They got behind in the count [against me] a lot and I was looking for some pitches over the middle of the plate and they threw them, so I took advantage of them,” Dennis said.

Dennis also made some good plays in center field, including a long running catch with the bases loaded in the ninth to seal the deal for MTSU.

Dennis had to battle the wind a few times to be able to snag the high pops hit towards him today.

“The wind is always a factor here.  [The wind] is always huge in the outfield because you never know where the ball is going to go.  The wind died down toward the end of the game and it helped because [the last out] may have gone off the wall.”

Raiders’ 6th inning surge gives them three-run lead

Phillip Kunsa running down to first base during a game against Kennesaw State on Sunday, March 4, 2017. (MTSU Sidelines/Darwin Moore)

MTSU started the 6th inning finding themselves down by one run in a back-and-forth game.  After the Owls went to the bullpen, the Raiders batted around and were able to get to them for four runs and two hits in the inning.  MTSU showed good patience at the plate as well, drawing four walks.

To start the inning, the Blue Raiders had back-to-back doubles from Phillip Kunsa and Blake Benefield to score their first run and tie the game at four.

After Benefield scored on a passed ball, MTSU exhibited great patience at the plate, loading the bases and scoring two more runs.

The Owl’s had to dive deep into their bullpen in the sixth, using three different pitchers in the inning.

Head coach Jim McGuire was pleased with another great effort by his team at the plate.

“We were a lot better today [at the plate],” McGuire said. “We didn’t get to run and steal bases like we want to, but we created a lot of opportunities through the walks and striking out less than we usually do.  We got some big hits when it counted and were able to score nine runs, and when you score nine runs, you should win almost every time.”

Box Score

What’s Next?

The Raiders will travel to Memphis for a two-game series against the Memphis Tigers.  First pitch for Tuesday is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at FedEx Park.  The game on Wednesday was originally scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. at Jackson stadium but due to impending weather, it will also be played at FedEx Park, beginning at at 4 p.m.

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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