Photo by Devin P. Grimes / MTSU Sidelines
Story by Darius Horton / Sports Reporter
The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (19-8, 2-2) began a three-game set against bitter rival Western Kentucky this weekend in Bowling Green, Kentucky, with a doubleheader on Saturday. When the last out of game two was made, Middle found themselves with a split after winning game one 7-4 and losing by a final score of 8-6 in the second act.
Middle Tennessee starts fast, earns victory against WKU in game one
The Blue Raiders started out hot, as they tallied in five runs in the first inning alone.Senior catcher Morgan Harris singled over the middle to score senior Precious Birdsong and sophomore Summer Burgess, giving the visitors an early 2-0 lead.
Sophomore Lexi Cushing and freshman Claire Smith smacked back-to-back doubles, followed by a Kristin Uselton sacrifice fly to give MTSU a 5-0 lead heading to the bottom of the inning.
Western Kentucky fought back against the Lady Raiders in the bottom of the first inning. After the Hilltoppers got two runners on base, Kelsey McGuffin scored both of them home by hitting a home run over right field, effectively trimming the deficit to 5-3.
The Blue Raiders answered with a run of their own in the second, when Jocelynn De La Cruz crushed a double to push the lead back to 6-3 in the second inning.
MTSU eventually scored again in the sixth inning when junior Kirstyn Cuccia singled junior Deja Portilla home from third base to run the score to 7-3, and that was all the offense they needed. Western only scored one more run, and Middle built momentum for game two with a 7-4 victory.
Western evens series with 8-6 win in offensive showcase
Middle Tennessee scored early in game two, just as they did in the previous game.
Harris singled Burgess home to give the Blue Raiders a 1-0 in the first inning. In the top of the second, Middle scored another run when sophomore Keely McGee drove in Smith with an RBI single for a 2-0 lead.
After WKU tied the game at two thanks to a two-run home run off the bat of Kendall Smith, the Blue Raiders scored three more runs to seemingly grab control of the game. Redshirt junior Dani Munoz crushed a three-run home run to right field to give Middle Tennessee a 5-2 lead.
This is where the Hilltoppers grabbed the momentum, as they rattled off five unanswered runs to take an 8-5 over the course of the third, fourth and fifth inning. Middle had a chance to tie and potentially take the lead in the final inning, but Cuccia struck out to end the game with the bases loaded and a final score sitting at 8-6 in favor of Western Kentucky.
The series will be decided on Sunday when these two teams meet for the finale of the three-game set. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.
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