Story by Quenterious Mabone / Contributing Writer
After dropping the first game of the series, the Blue Raiders lost to the Charlotte 49ers 6-2 after a three-run seventh stifled their comeback rally on Friday at Blue Raider Softball Field.
Middle Tennessee (17-25, 4-10 C-USA) scored only in the fifth inning.
Head coach Jeff Breeden was disappointed to drop another game, especially with his team only scoring two runs in back-to-back games.
“We have to take games one at a time,” Breeden said. “It’s very tough to lose a series, especially against your conference opponents, but we’re moving on to Saturday.”
The game remained at a hitless stalemate through the first two innings of the contest. The 49ers were able to break the scoreless battle in the third.
Charlotte led things off with a walk, but a fielder’s choice switched baserunners with one out. A Blue Raider error put two 49ers on with only one down before Charlotte’s Bailey Vannoy knocked a one-out home run over the right-center wall to push three across and give the 49ers the 3-0 lead.
The Blue Raiders looked to battle back in the fifth. Junior Kaylee Richetto led off the inning with a huge double that nearly left Blue Raider Softball Field as it rebounded off the very top of the left-field wall.
Sophomore Jaya Herring came in to pinch run for Richetto, before a groundout from freshman Claire Czajkowski moved Herring to third to put a Blue Raider 60
feet away. Freshman Ava Tepe drew a seven-pitch walk to put Blue Raiders runners on the corners. Sophomore Shelby Sargent then connected on a one-out single up the middle to plate Herring, move Tepe to second, and put the Blue Raiders on the board, 3-1.
A fielder’s choice advanced Tepe to third but was able to steal home before Mealer was picked-off at first to bring the Blue Raiders back within one, 3-2. In the seventh, the 49ers’ Wright connected on a leadoff single into center field to open the inning. Johnson advanced to second off a sacrifice bunt from Lexi Wagner, before an RBI-single from Frazier kicked Charlotte’s lead back to two, 4-2.
Vannoy then connected on a one-out RBI-double to push another run across and put the 49ers up by three, 5-2. An HBP put another 49er on, before up by three, 5-2. An HBP put another 49er on, before one final RBI- single to center field pushed across Vannoy and brought the game to its final, 6-2.
“This game was a must win for us,” said Laura Mealer. “Losing back-to-back was unacceptable for us.”
The Blue Raiders will host the Charlotte 49ers on Saturday for their series final. The first pitch is scheduled for noon at Blue Raider Softball Field.