Photo by Delany Dickey / MTSU Sidelines
Following their weekend series that saw the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (18-15) get swept by Marshall, the Raiders returned to form and shut out the Belmont Bruins by a score of 9-0.
Middle won their first game against Belmont in Nashville by a score of 24-4 on Mar. 27.
The Raiders had contributions from all parts of the team to secure the dominating victory, as their batters hit consistently, and the pitching staff walked only two batters on the day.
Bullpen shows flashes of brilliance
Freshman right-hander Zach Keenan got the start on the mound, and in a shortened appearance of just two innings, he allowed only two hits and walked one.
The story of the day for the bullpen was freshman righty Brycen Thomas in his first appearance for the season. Though he only played for one inning, he showed he was capable by pitching a clean inning with no hits or walks.
“It’s amazing if you think about it,” said Head Coach Jim McGuire. “He had Tommy John surgery in June and he’s already throwing in the game, so that says a lot.”
Thomas, who also plays first base and is a designated hitter, will help fill the hole left by junior Drew Huff’s MCL injury. Huff also acts as a reliever in emergency situations.
In total, six pitchers saw action Tuesday as the Raiders cruised to victory.
Dennis extends hit streak to 15 games, Aucker hits 8th bomb
In addition to their strong showing in pitching, Middle Tennessee put on an offensive clinic in the game by scoring nine runs.
Junior Austin Dennis came into Tuesday with a 14-game hitting streak, tied for his career long, and extended that streak to 15 in his first at-bat. He is also riding a 22-game 0n-base streak as well.
“(I’m) just trying to stay consistent,” Dennis said. “It’s the highest one I’ve ever had, and I try not to think about it too much because you don’t want to jinx it.”
Dennis finished the day 4-5 at the plate with three runs.
Senior Aaron Aucker added to his team-leading home run rally by spanking his eighth, a two-run bomb in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Aucker finished the day 3-5 and a triple shy of hitting a cycle.
As a team, the Raiders totaled nine runs on 13 hits.
Woodard shows grit in the field
The defensive star of the game was unquestionably junior LA Woodard, who overcame an error early in the game and played with flawless fielding that contributed to the team’s shut-out win.
“You learn that after an error, you just have to shake it off,” Woodard said. “After that error, I wanted the next ball hit to me so I could just flush that error.
The Raiders will try to carry the momentum of this win over with them as they travel to Cookeville, Tennessee to take on the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.
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