Photo by Darius Horton / MTSU Sidelines
The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (10-8, 1-0) traveled to Bowling Green, Kentucky to take on conference rival Western Kentucky (9-9, 0-1) in the Conference USA opener for both teams. Thanks to a strong performance from senior Jake Wyrick, the Blue Raiders held on for a 3-2 win over the Hilltoppers.
As they have often done this season, Middle Tennessee started off strong in the first inning before stagnating. It took a home run from senior Aaron Aucker to in the eighth inning to finally put the Hilltoppers away.
Stagnant bats hurt the Raiders, doesn’t prevent victory
A problem for the Raiders all season has been inconsistent performances at the plate. They tend to rely on big first inning performances, and simply wait out their opponents to secure the win.
This was much the same here, as designated hitter Manuel Lopez hit a two-run single to put the Raiders in the lead at the top of the first.
The road team didn’t score again until Aucker’s home run that secured the win. As a team, they only put together seven hits and struck out 11 times.
Pitching shows up to play, holds Toppers in check
Wyrick put3 together a strong outing on the mound, allowing only one run on four hits while striking out four in five innings.
Junior Tyler Holcombe relieved Wyrick in the sixth inning, and the righty put on a strong performance of his own. Holcombe only allowed a single run on four hits in 2.1 innings.
Junior Drew Huff earned the save for the game when he relieved Holcombe, and didn’t allow a single hit in his time on the bump.
This could be the start if the pitching staff figuring things out and if they do, it’ll make them a much more consistent team.
The Raiders will continue the series against Western Kentucky on Saturday in game two of the three game series; first pitch is set for 1 p.m.
To contact Sports Editor Rusty Ellis, email firstname.lastname@example.org.