Saturday, January 28, 2023

Baseball: Blue Raiders sweep series over Bowling Green

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Story by William Carter / Contributing Writer

The rain started to come down and the runs started to add up in the third inning as Middle Tennessee (5-2) cruised to a 7-0 win Sunday to complete the sweep of Bowling Green (0-3).

Both teams made quick work of each other until the third inning when Blue Raider Fausto Lopez blasted a high-flying ball to centerfield that scored Brycen Thomas from second for the first run of the game. In the next at-bat, JT Mabry moved Lopez around the bases with a single to right field. The Blue Raiders left three runners on base to end the inning up 2-0.

Lopez had a great day at the plate going 3-for-4 with an RBI, three runs scored and a stolen base. He seemed like a natural batting leadoff in the weekend series compiling a .357 average, four RBIs and a walk-off homerun.

“Fausto isn’t your typical leadoff guy,” Coach Jim Toman said. “He doesn’t walk as much as you want, he’s not a burner and he likes to swing the bat. He is a catalyst and spark plug up there. It seemed like when I put him in the leadoff position, he hit better than down the order.”

Middle Tennessee’s hot bats continued into the fourth inning when Brycen Thomas clobbered the first pitch off The Howard and Sally Wall in centerfield, his second of the season. Two at-bats later, Mabry drove in another run on a sacrifice fly for his second RBI of the game. DJ Wright wrapped up the inning with a single that plated Lopez shortly after he stole second.

Third baseman Brett Coker added to the Blue Raider home run total for the series (six) when he sent a line drive over the left field wall. It was his first of the season.

Peyton Wiggington got the start for the Blue Raiders on Sunday after Aaron Brown’s winning performance on Saturday. Wiggington pitched six scoreless innings, allowing only four hits. He struck out six batters before getting relief from Junior Zach Keenan. Keenan solidified the shutout and was awarded the save after giving up only two hits in three innings.

“Well, we had to take them out for pitch count, but they both gave us five or six innings. You wanna get at least five innings out of your starter at the start of the year,” said Toman. “All three starters did a great job because they threw strikes and had great command.”

What’s Next:

The Blue Raiders will travel for the first time this weekend to take on the University of South Alabama Jaguars in a three-game series in Mobile, Alabama. The first pitch is set for Friday, March 5 at 6:30 p.m.

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