Story by Will Carter / Sports Editor
Coming into the series finale on Sunday between MTSU and UTSA, the Roadrunners (30-14, 14-7 C-USA) flexed their hitting power and scoring ability by plating 25 combined runs in the first two games of the series, but the Blue Raiders (22-19, 12-9 C-USA) hampered those abilities in the finale on their way to a 2-1 victory to avoid a series sweep.
Contributing greatly to that effort was sophomore arm Jaden Hamm as he tossed seven scoreless innings while allowing only three hits and two walks with nine strikeouts.
It was apparent that Hamm was in a groove early as he cruised through the first nine batters before allowing his first hit in the third inning.
“I felt good after the second inning when I struck out the side,” Hamm said. “I mixed all of my pitches in that inning, and they were all hitting the spots. I knew it was go time. I was able to mix offspeed early, and bring my curveball late in the count to get them swinging.”
Hamm also acknowledged the Blue Raider fans in the bleachers for their efforts in giving the squad some confidence.
“I love that atmosphere. It gives you that extra push late in the game to be a dog and get it done.”
Much like on Saturday, the Blue Raiders jumped out early in the series finale to take a one-run lead when Jackson Galloway smashed a solo home run in his first at-bat of the game. The homer marked his second in a row as he blasted one in his last at-bat on Saturday night. Galloway finished the series going 8-for-12 at the plate with two RBIs and two home runs.
“The guys brought the energy today,” Blue Raiders head coach Jim Toman said. “You could tell before the game that they didn’t want to get swept in their own place. I wish it wasn’t 2-1, but Hamm and Seibert were the name of the game. That was a good team win against a good team.”
The win over the Roadrunners marked Toman’s 400th career win as a college baseball coach between his time at Liberty University and MTSU. He was appreciative after the game, but then reverted back to complimenting his team for their performance.
“I’ve had a lot of good assistant coaches and a lot of good players over the years,” Toman said. “That win helps us out in the standings. I think Old Dominion and UTSA are two of the best hitting teams in the conference, and we were able to get one against both of them. I’m proud of the guys for fighting hard today.”
Hamm kept the UTSA bats at bay for the entirety of his time on the mound before he was replaced by lefty Trent Seibert in the eighth inning. Seibert allowed one run at the beginning of the inning, but then made quick work of the Roadrunners to get back in the dugout.
Outside of Hamm, the hero of the game was Brian Dillingham for his efforts defensively and at the plate when he knocked an RBI single to put the Blue Raiders back ahead in the eighth inning. Dillingham combined with the rest of the MTSU defense that allowed only four hits with no errors.
“We learn from our mistakes every day,” Dillingham said of the defense. “If we have errors, we regroup and come back out the next day. We all have our own things we have to do.”
With no midweek game on the schedule for the Blue Raiders next week, their next time on the diamond will be in Miami, Fla. against FIU for a three-game set starting on Friday, May 6th.