The Blue Raiders took on division rival Troy Saturday afternoon in a double header after Friday night’s game was postponed due to inclement weather.
Middle bounced back on the masterful performance of sophomore pitcher Hunter Adkins for a 1-0 victory following an 11-1 loss.
Troy entered the day on top of the Sun Belt Conference with 25-7 record, ranked 25th USA Today/ESPN coaches poll.
On the mound for Troy in the first game was junior Tyler Ray, who entered the game with a 1.28 era and nearly went the distance in the 11-1 Blue Raider loss.
Ray pitched eight innings, giving up six hits, one walk and only one run. The Raiders started Daniel Palo, who gave up seven runs on seven hits through four innings.
Walks were a big problem for Middle Tennessee, as the Raider pitching staff gave up seven through the game.
Raider first baseman Justin Guidry was the only player for Middle with more than one hit, going two for four and scoring the only Middle Tennessee run. Five Raider batters went hitless in the game, with four strikeouts.
Jud Stoltz, who relieved Palo in the fifth, did not better. Stoltz gave up five runs on eight hits and three walks, going four innings in relief.
Troy had three batters with three or more hits in the first game, each grabbing at least two RBI’s as well. Drew Prichard took Palo deep over the right field wall in the fourth inning for a two-run homer.
The score could have been much worse for Middle Tennessee as Troy stranded 14 runners on base, Middle stranded six of their own.
Middle bounced back with some outstanding pitching of its own in the second half of the double header. Adkins, who entered the game without a win and sporting an era of 6.35, put in what was easily his best performance of the year.
Adkins went eight innings, giving up just three hits and three walks while striking out five. Paul Mittura, coming off a great performance in his first start in Tuesday night’s 1-0 loss to Vanderbilt, came in to get the save for Adkins with one runner on in the top of the ninth inning.
“It feels great,” Adkins said of his first win. “I was waiting for this all season.”
Troy had solid pitching of its own in the second game. Starter Ryan Sorce went 5.1 innings, giving up one run on six hits and walking none while striking out four.
The one run in the game came single from Tyler Acker, scoring Davis Pearce who had just hit a double. Pearce stumbled momentarily when rounding third, just coming in safe at home.
“Hunter Adkins was the difference,” Raider coach Steve Peterson said. “He pounded the strike zone with all his pitches. Instead of battling the strike zone, he battled the batters. Hunter beat an outstanding team.”
A scary moment for the Raiders came in the eighth inning when Adkins, attempting to pickoff Ali Knowles on first, threw the ball away allowing the runner to advance to third base. Adkins was able to get out of the jam with a fly ball out.
“I was paying attention to the hitters in the first game and what their weaknesses were,” Adkins said. “The focus for me was throwing strikes.”
Middle will have an opportunity to take the series Sunday afternoon at Reese Smith Jr. Field. The game will begin at 1 P.M. with Eric Giley on the mound.
“We’re so far down that we just have to get wins,” Peterson said. “Just because you’re in first place doesn’t mean someone can’t beat you and just because you’re in last doesn’t mean you can’t win.”
“Tomorrow is going to be huge,” Adkins said.