By Rickey Fuquay, Jr.//Contributing Writer
BEKLEY, W. Va. – Middle Tennessee split its doubleheader against Marshall Sunday afternoon at Epling Stadium, with the Blue Raiders winning the first game 2-1 before dropping the second game 2-0. Both games were shortened to seven innings.
With the split, the Blue Raiders (24-19, 15-6 C-USA) dropped their second Conference USA series of the year, but remained tied for first place with Florida Atlantic after the Owls picked up a three-game series sweep over Old Dominion this weekend.
The Blue Raiders used an all-around effort both offensively and defensively to end a two-game skid in the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader.
Brad Jarreau led the way on offense with a 2-for-3 effort and an RBI. Ronnie Jebavy and Kaleb King also had multi-hit games. Jebavy went 2-for-4, while King went 2-for-3.
Dustin Delgado and Austin Bryant both went 1-for-3 in the opener of the doubleheader.
The Blue Raiders struck first when Jared Allen grounded into a double play that plated Will Schnure in the third inning.
Jarreau drove in Bryant in the fifth inning off a sacrifice fly, giving MTSU a 2-0 lead.
Marshall (15-27, 8-13) attempted to put together a rally in the bottom of the seventh. Corey Bird drove in Josh King with a bases-loaded groundout to narrow MTSU’s lead to one, 2-1. With runners on second and third and two outs, Sergio Leon grounded out to Jake Ingold at third to end the game.
Nate Hoffmann improved to 4-1 on the year after getting the nod on the mound for the Blue Raiders. He allowed zero runs on four hits, tallying a career-high seven strikeouts in six strong innings of work.
Nathan Foriest worked the seventh inning for MTSU, recording his seventh save of the season.
Junior Pitcher J.D. Hammer fell to 1-4 on the year for Marshall. He allowed two runs on seven hits, striking out four and walking five in five and one-third innings pitched.
With the series evened up, MTSU looked to take the rubber match in game two to take the series.
The Blue Raiders offense failed to get the hits they needed in the second game, leading to them being shut out for the fifth time this season, and it was the second time they had been shut out in the last four games.
Jarreau (2-for-4) and Kevin Dupree (2-for-3) both recorded two hits in the game. Allen went 1-for-3, while Schnure managed a 1-for-2 effort.
An MTSU miscue provided Marshall with a chance at its first run of the game in the fourth. King reached on an error by MTSU starter Tyler Troutt, which allowed him to make it all the way to third.
Leon made the Blue Raiders pay as he smacked a single through the right side that scored King.
Tyler Ratliff added a run for the Thundering Herd when he blasted a ball over the left field wall to lead off the bottom of the fifth.
MTSU’s best chance to score came in the sixth inning. The Blue Raiders had runners on second and third with just one out. But, a strikeout by King and a groundout by Delgado ended the threat without putting a run across the plate.
Marshall went on to win the game 2-0. With the win, the Thundering Herd took the series. It was just the second C-USA series loss for the Blue Raiders. with the only other one coming to Rice.
Troutt fell to 0-3 after getting the start on the mound for the Blue Raiders. He allowed two runs on five hits in four and two-thirds innings of work. Sam Alton came in from the bullpen and allowed zero runs on one hit in one and one-third innings of work.
Michael Taylor shut the Blue Raiders down all game. He improved to 1-4 on the year, allowing zero runs on five hits, striking out seven in six and one-third innings pitched.
Matt Margaritonda notched his fourth save of the year. He allowed zero runs on one hit as he worked the last two-thirds of the game.
The Blue Raiders will look to get back on track when they travel to Nashville to face off against the Lipscomb in an in-state non-conference matchup on Tuesday. First pitch is slated for 6 p.m. CST.
For more Blue Raiders sports, follow us at www.mtsusidelines.com, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter at @Sidelines_Sport.
To contact sports editor Connor Grott, email email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @Connor_Grott.