Featured photo by Ryan Loftis
Story by Conner Smith
Houston, TX- Middle Tennessee State baseball defeated LA Tech on Thursday 7-6 in the second round of the Conference USA Tournament to advance to the tournament semifinals.
The Blue Raiders came out of the gate swinging when they plated two runs in the first courtesy of a DJ Wright double and a Jackson Galloway groundout.
MTSU continued its scoring ways in the fourth when Eston Snider lined a leadoff single to center field and then flashed his speed and stole second base. Snider later scored on an RBI single by Luke Vinson to put MTSU up 3-0.
The Bulldogs scored in the bottom of the fourth with a solo home run. Both pitching staffs allowed zero runs from the fifth to the eighth inning. Then, Briggs Rutter launched a solo home run on the second pitch of the inning. That was followed by an RBI triple by Brett Coker to break it open and give the Blue Raiders a 6-1 advantage.
MTSU also tacked on another run in the ninth to make it 7-1. Although the Bulldogs did make a major comeback, they came up just short as Jaden Hamm was finally able to sit down the final three batters and give MTSU the 7-6 win.
“There was some toughness involved there, LA Tech is a good club.” MTSU head coach Jerry Meyers said. “They’ve had some ups and downs, but they’ve had pitching depth, with a couple of horses down in the bullpen they would have gone to if they had the lead. We wanted to see if we could get the ball into Hamm’s hand at the end. He did exactly what we needed him to at the point in time he went in. Those last three outs are hard to get. There wasn’t anyone else in this league I would have wanted out there to get those last three, and he got them.”
With the win, Middle Tennessee will have Friday off, before playing at least once Saturday in the tournament semifinals.
The Blue Raiders will face the winner of Friday’s LA Tech vs. Charlotte loser’s bracket game, with first pitch scheduled for 9:00 a.m. Saturday. MTSU clinches a spot in the tournament championship with a win in that game. Should the Blue Raiders lose Saturday morning, a winner-take-all contest would be forced for 4:00 p.m. Saturday for a championship game berth.
Conner Smith is a sports reporter for MTSU Sidelines. If you have information for a story, you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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