Story by Will Carter / Sports Editor
Home openers are some of the most anticipated games in college baseball with fans in attendance for the home team and players getting to perform for those fans, but Middle Tennessee (3-6) struggled at the plate against Lipscomb (4-3) in their first game at Reese Smith Jr. Field this season as they were shutout 3-0 by the Bisons.
It was a defensive affair from both teams throughout the game until the eighth inning when Lipscomb was able to push two runs across the plate on a sacrifice bunt and sacrifice fly. The Bisons totaled five hits on the day while the Blue Raiders put together four.
“We gotta play a lot better, and we gotta play a lot cleaner,” Blue Raider head coach Jim Toman said. “Seibert threw a great game. We just didn’t play hard enough and didn’t deserve to win.”
Left-hander Trent Seibert’s day on the mound was one of the few bright spots for the Blue Raiders. In 6.1 shutout innings, he allowed only three hits while striking out six batters on 89 total pitches. Up to this point, Seibert had only appeared as a reliever, but he got the nod to start against the Bisons. His performances in the two games he’s appeared in so far weren’t up to par with the outings he’s had before, but he recovered in his start.
“The whole day I felt pretty good,” Seibert said. “I was ready to pitch and redeem myself. All I wanted to do was bring my preparation to the field today.”
Seibert went on to say that his change-up wasn’t hitting the spots very well to start the season, but it felt good today so he looked for it more. Adding to his attack, he worked his fastball and slider numerous times throughout the game.
“The fastball and slider were working great today too,” Seibert said. “Being a starting pitcher, you kinda gotta figure out what the umpire is gonna give you.”
“He was giving me the fastball outside to a righty, so we just kept working that.”
On the offensive side of the ball, the vast majority of the Blue Raiders struggled at the plate except for third baseman Brett Coker. Coker accounted for three of Middle Tennessee’s four hits with all of them being singles. In total, 10 runners were left on base against Lipscomb which proved costly.
“We just didn’t do enough offensively,” Toman said. “I told the guys that hustling is running the bases included, and we just didn’t do that today.”
“We didn’t play hard enough and didn’t deserve to win.”
The result wasn’t what the Blue Raider faithful had hoped for, but the fans showed up in bunches. 1,175 spectators were in the stands to watch the Blue Raiders take the field in Murfreesboro for the first time this season.
“It was a great crowd,” Toman said. “ It was a great day, a great opener, and the field is looking good. Everything looked great except we didn’t play as well as we needed to.”
Next on the schedule for Middle Tennessee is a trip to Chattanooga Wednesday to take on the Western Carolina Catamounts at 4 p.m. central, 5 p.m. eastern.