Saturday, July 13, 2024

The 100 Miles of Hate is on in Murfreesboro this weekend

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Featured photo by Preston Todd

Story by Conner Smith

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MURFREESBORO, Tenn – The yearly hate will be renewed in the mid-state this weekend when Middle Tennessee baseball hosts archrival Western Kentucky in a massive three-game set. The series is always a competitive and heated battle, but MTSU head coach Jerry Meyers has made his team aware that they just need to focus on baseball and play their game.

“I’m a Blue Raider, so I’m not a fan of a Hilltopper at all and were looking to play good baseball this weekend,” catcher Jared Vetetoe said. “But also, Coach Meyers has made it a point that it doesn’t matter who we’re playing whether it be a midweek or a weekend series, we need to focus on baseball. So, we’re going to go out there and just focus on winning the game and every game from this point forward.”

This weekend will be the 29th series, and the 76-78th overall games, with the all-time series just a game away from being tied as WKU has a slight 38-37 lead. Beyond that, the pressure is fully on for MTSU when it looks at the conference standings. WKU is sitting pretty as the No.1 team in Conference USA, while MTSU is in eighth place and fighting for a spot in the CUSA tournament.

On paper, the matchup looks to favor the Blue Raiders as they match up very well with the Hilltoppers. But baseball isn’t played on paper, so numbers are usually thrown out of the window.

Both the Blue Raider offense and Hilltopper pitching are top-5 in every CUSA stat category. The exact opposite can be said for the other side of each team.
MTSU pitching is bottom-5 in conference ERA, hits allowed and walks, while the Hilltoppers are bottom-5 in batting average, runs, hits, home runs and on-base percentage.

However, it’s a new weekend and a new opportunity for both sides to improve. For MTSU All-CUSA catcher Briggs Rutter, he believes the Blue Raider pitching can step it up this weekend.

“Everybody on this team is capable of doing it, but you’ve got to believe in yourself,” Rutter says of the pitcher’s giving good innings. “I’m the catcher, so it’s my job to make those guys feel like they’re the best in CUSA at all times when they’re out there, and we feel like we have the guys to get it done this weekend.”

Even with this season going the way it has for MTSU, there’s still time to turn it around. It squeaked into the conference tournament last year and then ended up nearly winning the whole thing. So its goals are still on the table, but they’ve got to turn it around right now, and that’s been a focal point for Meyers’ team this week.

“We need to realize we still have a shot at achieving our goals as a team,” Meyers said. “The last couple of days we’ve talked about that if we look past the adversity we’ve had to face we can be a very dangerous team. It’s got to line up right for us, but it most definitely can, and we can finish this season strong.”

Conner Smith is a sportswriter for MTSU Sidelines. For more news, visit www.mtsusidelines.com, and follow us on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on X and Instagram at @mtsusidelines. Also, sign up for our weekly newsletter here.

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