Raiders can’t hold on to late lead; lose to Marshall 8-6

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

Photo by Tyler Lamb / Sports Editor

The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders(13-15, 3-6) couldn’t fight off a seventh inning rally against the Marshall Thundering Herd (12-13, 4-5) and lost the final game of the series today at Appalachian Power Park by a score of 8-6.

The Raiders had two late-inning comebacks to win both games in their double-header yesterday, but blew a five-run lead late today and were unable to sweep the series.

MTSU starter Cody Puckett turned in another good start for the Raiders, going six innings and giving up only three runs.  Puckett had another successful day mixing his pitches, striking out seven Marshall hitters.

The Raiders were able to jump out to an early lead, scoring four runs in the third to make it 4-0.

After surrendering the first Marshall run in the fourth, the Raiders were able to add to their lead in the sixth by scoring two more runs to head into the final three innings with a 6-1 lead.

Marshall got their bats going in the seventh inning by scoring six runs and take the lead 7-6.  The Herd tacked on an insurance run in the eighth to make it 8-6.

MT fought back in the ninth, getting the tying run to the plate and Aaron Antonini to third base, but failed to capitalize and get their record back to .500 on the season.

Raiders cap off good weekend at the plate

MTSU finished off a good weekend at the plate with six more runs in the final game against Marshall.

The Raiders did most of their damage in the third inning, when they got to the Herd for four runs.

The scoring started when Austin Dennis’ sacrifice fly brought Blake Benefield in to score from third to give the Raiders a 1-0 lead.  Two at-bats later, Drew Huff’s RBI single allowed Aaron Antonini to come in and score to make the game 2-0 in favor of MT.  The very next at-bat, Ryan Kemp collected two RBIs on a single that scored Brad Jarreau and Drew Huff to finish off the rally.

The Raiders scored two more runs on back to back wild pitches in the sixth inning that allowed Kaleb King and Phillip Kunsa to pad the MTSU lead to 6-1.

As a team, the Raiders finished the weekend with 20 runs on 27 hits, an average of .74 runs scored per hit.  The team batting average over the weekend was .257.

Seventh inning outburst just enough to down MT

The Blue Raiders came into the seventh inning with a 6-1 lead, but the Thundering Herd gave the Raiders a taste of their own medicine with some late-inning fireworks and put up six runs in the inning.

Marshall shortstop Leo Valenti got things going with a two-run double that narrowed the Raider lead to 6-3.  A sacrifice fly from Tyler Ratliff made it 6-4.

The biggest blow dealt by Marshall came on the next at-bat, as leftfielder Sam Finfer gave the Herd the lead for good with a three-run home run that made it 7-6.

 Box Score



What’s Next?

The Raiders will travel to Knoxville on Tuesday for a non-conference matchup with  the Tennessee Volunteers at 4 p.m.  Over the weekend, the Raiders will return to the Reese to take on Conference USA foe Old Dominion. Friday’s game is scheduled to start at 6 p.m., Saturday’s at 4 p.m. and Sunday’s at noon.

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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