Middle Tennessee fails to break out of slump in 17-7 loss at Vanderbilt

Photo by Brent Beerends / MT Athletic Communications

The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders baseball team (22-30, 8-19) fell behind early and couldn’t claw their way back into the ballgame as they lost to the Vanderbilt Commodores (31-21, 13-13) with a score of 17-7 at Hawkins Field Tuesday night.

Vanderbilt starter Matt Rupenthal cruised his way through six innings, surrendering only one run to the Blue Raiders on the way to collecting his second win of the season.

Vanderbilt got three runs early in the ballgame via the long ball.  Commodore third baseman Will Toffey hit a home run to lead off the ballgame, giving Vanderbilt an early 1-0 lead.

Middle Tennessee tied the game in inning number three after senior shortstop Riley Delgado’s RBI single that made it a 1-1 ballgame.

Vanderbilt took back the lead in the bottom of the inning. Centerfielder Jeren Kendall hit the second home run of the night off of MTSU starter Tyler Hasper, ending his night after just 2.1 innings.  The Commodores went on to score three more runs in the inning to push their lead out to 6-1. Vanderbilt continued to add to their lead throughout the middle innings, as they scored seven more runs after the third to push their lead out to 13-1 after six innings.

The Blue Raiders didn’t go down quietly, however, and made a bit of noise later in the ballgame. They scored six runs in the final three innings, getting contributions from players such as Aaron Antonini, Elliot Curtis, Chris Hensley and Manuel Lopez. The late rally wouldn’t be enough, as the Blue Raiders fell by a final score of 17-7 to the Commodores.

“Antonini getting three hits, and Riley being Riley were the biggest positives of tonight,” said MTSU Head Coach Jim McGuire.  “(This year) has been tough on all of us.  We have a good group of (seniors), and they have contributed a lot to our program, so we want to try and win ballgames in this last series.”

Antonini finishes a home run short of the cycle

MTSU catcher Aaron Antonini finished the game a home run short of the cycle in a 3-4 effort.

He doubled in his first at-bat in the third inning, helping the Raiders tie the game.

In the eighth inning, Antonini singled and came in to score as a result of a walk to make the game 13-2.

Antonini led off the ninth inning with a triple that would help the Raiders score three runs to slice into the Vanderbilt lead. He also scored the Raiders’ first run of the inning after Elliot Curtis RBI single.

Delgado making the most of his final at-bats as a Blue Raider

Senior shortstop Riley Delgado reached base a total of four times and knocked in a run as one of the few Blue Raiders to reach base during the game.

Delgado knocked in the Raiders first run of the ballgame in the third inning with a single off of Vanderbilt’s Rupenthal to tie the game at one apiece.

Delgado collected his second hit of the night in the fifth inning when he singled to short right-center field.  To that point in the ballgame, the senior had accounted for two of the Blue Raiders’ four hits. He also drew two walks, one to lead off the ballgame and one in the eighth inning that pushed Antonini into scoring position with nobody out. Delgado came to score the Raiders third run after right-fielder Austin Dennis drew a walk with the bases loaded.

Box Score

What’s Next?

Middle Tennessee will end their season this weekend at Reese Smith Field with their final conference series against Louisiana Tech.  The Thursday and Friday night match-ups will start at 6:00 p.m. and first pitch this Saturday for Senior day will be at 1:00 p.m.

Follow MTSU baseball reporter Anthony Fiorella on Twitter at @A_Fiorella74 for more coverage.

To contact Sports Editor Rusty Ellis, email sports@mtsusidelines.com.

For more sports stories, follow us on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter and Periscope at @Sidelines_Sport.

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