Photo by Delaney Dickey / MTSU Sidelines
Following a day off after their Saturday game was rescheduled, the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders played their final series game against Rice on Sunday afternoon. The game ended in a 5-5 tie due to NCAA regulations that place a curfew on Sunday games. This prevented the game from going to extra innings.
“We were fortunate to get it tied, but it would have been more fortunate to get a win,” said Head Coach Jim McGuire. “I’m sure (Rice) is thinking the same thing.”
Pitching staff struggles early
Junior right-hander A.J. Spencer got the nod for the start on the mound, and struggled in his time in the game. He threw for 3.1 innings, and gave up two runs on three hits and eight walks with three strikeouts.
With two runners on base, sophomore right-hander Grant Williams relieved Spencer. He made it out of the inning with only one runner scoring.
Williams fared better on the mound, going three innings and only giving up three runs on three hits and one walk before being relieved by junior righty Tyler Holcombe.
“We didn’t pitch great, but we battle out of some jams,” McGuire said. “I thought from a competitive standpoint, we were pretty good.”
Offense struggles early, ties game late
The Blue Raiders were held scoreless until the bottom of the third when senior Aaron Aucker hit a single to score fellow senior Kevin Sullivan, tying the game at one.
Aucker finished the day going 3-5 with three RBIs, the only Raider to have a single RBI in the game.
MTSU took their first lead of the game in the bottom of the fifth inning when junior Blake Benefield crossed home on a passed ball for a 3-2 lead.
Middle Tennessee managed 14 total hits, but failed to capitalize on most of their scoring opportunities. For the game, they left 10 runners on base.
The Raiders will be back in action on Tuesday when they host the Lipscomb Bison at 6 p.m. The last time these teams faced off, the Raiders walked away with a close 8-7 victory.
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The Middle Tennessee baseball team has been up and down this season. Yesterday, their game against the Rice Owls got rescheduled to today. The game got called a tie due to the NCAA’s curfew rule on Sunday games which caused the game not to go into extra innings. The Blue Raiders have gotten breaks this season and should be thankful for them. Obviously, as a player and a coach you want to finish the game today in order to get the win. The Blue Raiders played host to instate rival the Vanderbilt Commodores last week and that game got called due to inclement weather. The Commodores were down by two runs and had just hit a three run homerun to take the lead. Due to the lightning, the game was stopped in the middle of the inning. Then, the umpire called the game and Middle Tennessee was granted the win. The rule in baseball is that if a game is called in the middle of an inning you revert back to the score at the end of the previous inning. And now today the game got called because of the curfew rule. Not to say that MTSU was going to lose the game but they have caught a couple of blessings and need to take advantage of them.
The Blue Raiders are still fighting to stay five hundred on the season. The baseball team is trying to finish the season strong for seeding in the conference championship tournament. The Blue Raiders beat their instate opponent Lipscomb on Wednesday in a rout 12-6. This win earned MTSU the season sweep against Lipscomb. Sophomore pitcher Sheldon Paulk got the win for the Blue Raiders going five innings and only giving up three runs and two earned. They moved to 20 and 17 on the year and look to continue to stay on track heading into postseason play. The Blue Raiders will travel to Hattiesburg, Mississippi to take on Conference USA foe Southern Miss. The Golden Eagles are one of the top teams in Conference USA and this will be a challenge for MTSU. However, if they can win the series or at least pick up a win this will serve as a huge confidence boost for the Blue Raiders.
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