Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Baseball: Solid offense, lightning delay lead to victory for Middle Tennessee


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Photo by David Chamberlain / MTSU Sidelines

The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders hosted the No.15 Vanderbilt Commodores on Tuesday night, in a showdown that pitted two in-state opponents against each other. Though they managed to hold the Commodores in check for most of the night, an eighth-inning grand slam gave Vandy a 7-4 lead. Due to a heavy dose of rain and lightning, the score was reverted back to the score from the previously completed inning to give Middle Tennessee a 4-3 win.

Sophomore Grant Williams got the start on the hill for Middle, and although his time was short, he continued his recent streak of lights-out pitching. Overall, he pitched 2.1 innings of two-hit ball with no runs allowed to keep the game in a scoreless tie.

The Blue Raiders struck first on the scoreboard, as junior Blake Benefield hit a chopper over the first baseman’s head to score fellow junior Austin Dennis for the 1-0 lead.

Vanderbilt answered back with three runs in the top of the fourth, as Jason Gonzalez mashed a three-run bomb to right-centerfield to give the Commodores a 3-1 lead.

Senior Aaron Aucker hit a dinger of his own in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game at 3-3, before senior Kevin Sullivan hit an RBI double to give the Blue Raiders a 4-3 lead.

In the top of the eighth, Vandy found themselves with the bases loaded and only one out with a chance to take the lead. With junior Drew Huff on the mound, Gonzalez struck out for the second out to bring Alonzo Jones to the plate. Jones provided the biggest hit of the game with a grand slam over the scoreboard in right field, giving Vanderbilt a 7-4 lead.

The game was then delayed by lightning and rain, causing both teams to vacate the field. After about 40 minutes of waiting, the umpires decided to revert the score back to the previously completed inning. This decision gave MTSU a 4-3 win over the Commodores.

Aucker’s big day at plate sparks offense

Aucker gave the Blue Raiders every chance to win with his performance at the plate.

All in all, he finished 3-4 with two RBIs, including his two-run homer in the fifth. His batting average now sits at .351 on the year.

If he continues at this torrid pace, the Blue Raiders will be tough to beat .

Holcombe holds Commodores in check in relief effort

Redshirt junior Tyler Holcombe provided a major boost to the MTSU bullpen by pitching 2.2 innings of no-hit ball.

In doing this, he bought Middle Tennessee some time to get the offense going while they trailed 3-1. While the bullpen has struggled so far this season, Holcombe’s outing showed progress in a time when they needed it the most.

What’s next?

The Blue Raiders will be back in action against the Marshall Thundering Herd in the opening game of a three-game set on Friday. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.

To contact Sports Editor Rusty Ellis, email

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

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