Saturday, January 28, 2023

Blue Raiders’ bullpen key in win over Bruins

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Story by Will Carter / Sports Editor

Much like many other games this season, Middle Tennessee’s bats took some time to heat up in their 3-1 win over the visiting Belmont Bruins, but the work from the bullpen gave them some comfort as the game went on by pitching eight scoreless innings combined. 

Freshman Jack Julian started on the mound for the Blue Raiders (19-16) – his fourth of the season – pitching four scoreless innings against the Bruins (23-14) to follow a one-run first inning. He allowed four hits through six innings of work with seven total strikeouts, six of which were consecutive. 

“I came on early throwing fastball, and knew I needed to establish some off-speed pitches since they were barreling my fastball,” Julian said. “I knew I had to bounce back. I really just got in there and got in a groove.”

Julian’s performance was followed by good outings from fellow freshman James Sells, and a save by Trent Seibert to end the game, his first of the season. Seibert struck out three batters in 1.2 innings of work. 

All three of Middle Tennessee’s runs came in the sixth inning, and it started with a double by catcher Briggs Rutter that plated two runs to give them the lead. Two at-bats later, Jackson Galloway singled to bring Rutter back across home plate. The Blue Raiders totaled four hits on the night. 

“I was trying to see something up, and I put a good swing on it,” Rutter said. “We got those two runs in, and it felt great.”

Blue Raiders head coach Jim Toman was proud of how the pitchers performed, and of his team for finding a way to win. 

“Our three pitchers did really well,” Toman said. “We had some timely hits, but we didn’t hit great. We figured out a way to win. That’s better than playing well and losing. I’d rather play badly and win.”

Belmont’s lone run came after a string of three straight singles in the first frame, but Julian locked in from that point on. 

Rutter’s start behind the plate was his first since March 27th in a loss at UAB. It’s not easy being behind the plate, but the bullpen can make it easier on you by playing well. 

“He (Julian) pitched really well, so that makes it easy on you.,” Rutter said. “He gets dialed in, and it’s hard to get him out of that zone when he’s dialed in. He throws his best stuff when he’s in that zone.”

The Blue Raiders end their series with Belmont with a split as they prepare to take on Louisiana Tech this weekend for a very important Conference USA series. Middle Tennessee is currently on a streak of four series wins in a row heading into the weekend. 

The series is set for start times of 6 p.m. on Friday, 2 p.m. on Saturday, and 1 p.m. on Sunday.

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