Story by Trevor Aldridge / Staff Writer
Middle Tennessee State (0-3) suffered a three-game sweep at the hands of #13 North Carolina (3-0) over last weekend at Boshamer Stadium to open up their 2020 baseball season.
The Tar Heels won the first game 15-3 on Friday afternoon. Sophomore right-hander Aaron Brown made the start on the mound for the Blue Raiders but lasted only 2.2 innings. He allowed five runs off three hits, two walks and struck out two.
Centerfielder Nathan Sanders was productive at the plate for the Blue Raiders with a two-run home run.
MTSU was able to hold the Carolina offense in check in the second game on Saturday but still lost 2-1.
Junior lefty Peyton Wigginton, who led MTSU in wins (5) and strikeouts (79) last year, had a strong showing in his 2020 debut. He allowed just one run off five hits and no walks while striking out five.
The Blue Raiders grabbed an early lead on a sacrifice fly by first baseman Brycen Thomas that scored right fielder Cole Escher.
The Tar Heels finally got to Wigginton in the bottom of the 8th inning with a solo home run by centerfielder Dylan Harris forcing
junior right-hander Zach Keenan to come in relief and get MTSU out of the inning. Ultimately Keenan was stuck with the loss after allowing a walk-off solo home run to designated hitter Joey Lancellotti in the bottom of the 9th.
MTSU again lost a one-run contest on Sunday by a score of 5-4.
Junior left-hander Justin Medlin pitched 2.0 innings and allowed three runs on two hits, three walks, and a strikeout. He was credited with the loss.
Connor Ollio earned the win for UNC with 5.1 innings, allowing seven hits, four runs (three earned), no walks and two strikeouts.
Shortstop Fausto Lopez had a strong showing at the plate for the Blue Raiders, where he went three for four with two doubles, an RBI and a run scored. Second baseman Brian Dillingham was one for four with two RBI and a run.
“The first game we got the jitters out. Yesterday and today we’d beat a lot of teams based on the way we played. Obviously, we’re not happy with the end result, but I’m proud of them for competing and out-hitting them today,” MTSU head coach Jim Toman said.
Toman also pointed out his team’s cleaner play defensively over the course of the series, committing just one error between Saturday and Sunday’s games, after having four on Friday.
The Blue Raiders will play host for this year’s Southern Athletic Fields Classic this week at Reese Smith Field. They will play Bradley on Thursday and Evansville on Friday, with both games beginning at 3:00 p.m.