MTSU baseball falls to Old Dominion in extras

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

Photo by Tyler Lamb / Sports Editor

Middle Tennessee played their middle game of  their three game set against the Old Dominion Monarchs at the Reese Smith Field in Murfreesboro. The game was driven by offense, but ODU had the final  blow to win by a score of 5-3 in 12 innings.

The game started in ODUs favor  with three combined runs scored in the first and the fifth. MT fought back and scored three runs to tie the game, but a two-run homer in the top of the 12th gave the Monarchs the lead and sealed the victory.

AJ Spencer solid despite no decision

Sophomore AJ Spencer started on the mound for the Blue Raiders and pitched six innings, allowing three runs off four hits, walking three and striking out six.

“AJ was really good today as a starter,” head coach Jim McGuire said.” He looked liked a weekend starter today, and that’s what we’ve got to get out of him.”

Despite not factoring into the decision, Spencer was hitting the marks with his pitches after the opening frame and it showed in his six-inning effort.

I felt good the first inning and the rest of the game,” Spencer said about his performance. “The first inning I just left a couple of balls up and over the middle of the plate, so I tried to emphasize, especially when your ahead in counts, not missing away and not leaving anything over the middle of the plate that they can hit to well.”

Raiders rally comes up short

The Blue Raiders were down going into the bottom of the sixth, before Drew Huff hit a RBI fielder’s choice with the bases loaded to score the runner from third, making the score 3-1. In the eighth with two runners on base, Kaleb King singled to score Aaron Aucker to cut the Monarch lead to one. After a sacrifice bunt from Huff to advance the runners, Blake Benefield hit a sac fly to center field to score the runner from third, tying the game at three.

Then in the twelfth, the Monarchs hit a two-run home run to take the lead and win the game.

Even with the loss, McGuire liked how his team didn’t give in and battled to the final out.

“We battled and really competed hard, but we couldn’t find a way to get over the hump,”  McGuire said. “We made some mistakes defensively early in the game that cost us  that got us behind…I really liked the way we battled , and we came back against a really good pitcher and got the game tied up.”

Final MTSU stats

What’s Next?

The Blue Raiders will be back in action on Sunday to finish the series against Old Dominion. First pitch is set for noon.

Follow MTSU Baseball beat writers Anthony Fiorella (@A_Fiorella74), Ryan Nixon (@RNixon32), and Stephen Smith (@StEvo_Shield) on Twitter for more coverage.

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