Raiders run-rule ODU, swat five homers

Photo by Brent Beerends / MT Athletic Communications

The MTSU Blue Raiders (15-17, 4-8) defeated the Old Dominion Monarchs (24-9, 9-2) 17-6 in seven innings to avoid the sweep Sunday afternoon at Reese Smith Jr. Field.  Reid Clements picked up the win to improve to 2-0 on the season. In return, the Raiders gave Old Dominion starter John Wilson his first loss of the year.

Wilson came into the game with a 5-0 record and a 2.97 ERA, but the Raiders were able to jump out to an early lead on him by scoring five runs in the first inning.  Brad Jarreau and Aaron Aucker each recorded run home runs that accounted for the Raiders first four runs of the ballgame.  Blake Benefield’s RBI single made it 5-0 and ended Wilson’s day after just one inning.

In the second inning, Ryan Kemp collected his second hit and first RBI of the ballgame on a ball that he scorched to right center.  Austin Dennis scored for the second time in the ballgame on the Kemp double.

Old Dominion shortstop Zach Rutherford hit a two-run home run in the third inning to narrow the gap to 6-2. The Monarchs would knife into the MT lead once again when second baseman Jared Young hit a two-run homer for the Monarch’s in the fourth inning, making it 6-4 MTSU.

In the Raider’s half of the fourth, Kemp hit yet another two-run bomb that scored knocked in Aucker and increased the MTSU lead to 8-4.

MTSU starter Cody Puckett’s day ended after four innings when he was relieved in the fifth by Reid Clements.  Puckett collected seven strikeouts on the day to increase his season total to 36.

Clements got some run support from his team to head into the sixth, after the Raiders accounted for seven runs in the previous inning, highlighted by Aucker’s second two-run home run of the day.

ODU first baseman Vinnie Pasquantino had a two-RBI single in the sixth that made it 15-6, ending Clements day.   Carson Lester came on in the seventh and struck out the side.

Riley Delgado hit the fifth and final home run of the day to give the Raiders a 17-6 lead and enforce the run rule to end the ballgame.

“We played a very balanced game,” MTSU coach Jim McGuire said.  “We knew we had to score a lot of runs with the way the wind was blowing.  We tried to hit and run and do what we had to do to keep scoring.”

Raiders explode for five runs in first inning; chase off ODU starter after just one inning

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)

MTSU was all over ODU’s Wilson in the first inning.  The first five Blue Raiders were able to reach base to start the inning, and each one of them came in to score.

Delgado singled to lead off the ballgame and in the next at-bat, Jarreau hit his fourth home run of the season to left center field to give MTSU a 2-0 lead.

Subsequently, Austin Dennis hit a routine ground ball to second, but was able to reach on an error. That brought cleanup man Aaron Aucker to the plate.  Aucker sent the second home run of the inning off of the scoreboard in right field to make it 4-0.

Kemp reached base on the next at-bat with a single, and later came in to score the fifth and final run of the inning when Benefield singled to right center.

Raiders have scoring outburst in 5th; this time for seven runs

Blake Benefield smashes a hit during a game against WKU on March 24, 2017. (MTSU Sidelines/Tyler Lamb)

In the Raider fifth, Dennis singled to center to score Jarreau and push MTSU’s lead to five at 9-4.  Aucker stepped to the plate and delivered yet again.  He sent his second two-run home run over the center field fence to again blow the game open at 11-4 MTSU.  The two home run outing marked the first multi-home run game of the junior career.

“It felt great [having my first career multi home run game],”said Aucker.  “It was the first time I’d ever done that and it was fun.”

The Raider’s continued the huge fifth inning when Huff singled to score Kemp and move Kaleb King over to third, making it 12-4 MT.  Blake Benefield then hit a bloop double to right field to score Kaleb King and make it 13-4.

Catcher Aaron Antonini capped off the outburst with his two RBI single that scored Benefield and Huff and made MTSU’s lead 15-4 to head into the sixth inning.

Kemp caps off hot weekend

Ryan Kemp running down the first base line during a game against Lipscomb on March 22, 2017 at Reese Smith Jr. Field. (MT Athletic Communications/Brent Beerends)

MTSU second baseman Ryan Kemp was one of the big bright spots for the Raiders this weekend.  Kemp finished the series by going 9-12 with four RBI’s and two home runs.  Kemp’s four hits were a career-high as he finished just a triple short of the cycle.

In his first at bat, Kemp singled and stole second base, which would later allow him to score on a Benefield single.  In his second at-bat, Kemp hit one of the game’s many two-RBI home runs to make the Raider lead 8-4.

In his third plate appearance, Kemp walked and advanced to third on a single by King.  Kemp was running again as the hit-and-run was on, and it helped him to come in and score his third run of the ball game.  In the following inning, Kemp doubled high off of the right center field wall to record his fifth time on base in the afternoon.

“I felt strong today and everything just clicked,” Kemp said.  “I saw some good pitches and I jumped on them like a good hitter should.  I can’t get to happy about it though.  You’re never as good as you think you are, but you’re never as bad as you are as well so I want to stay [humble].”

Box Score

What’s Next?

The Raiders will continue their homestand throughout the rest of this week.  The Belmont Bruins will come to town Tuesday night at 6 pm.  The Raiders will resume conference play Thursday night against the UAB Blazers.  Thursday and Friday night’s games are scheduled for 6 pm first pitches as Saturday’s is scheduled for 1 pm.

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

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