The MTSU baseball team started off its home portion of the 2014 schedule with a 9-5 loss against former Ohio Valley Conference rival Tennessee Tech on Tuesday afternoon at Reese Smith Jr. Field.
The Blue Raiders opened up an eight-game home stand against the OVC favorites as they were hoping to get back on track after losing two of three last weekend at Kennesaw State.
However, the Golden Eagles got two home runs by senior right fielder Brandon Thomasson, and TTU snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Blue Raiders. It was Golden Eagles first win over MTSU since 2008. MTSU had the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, but junior catcher Michael Adkins flied out to right to end the game.
“We got to the point to get the bases loaded. We were hoping he was going to make a mistake to Adkins to allow him to get on base by a hit or a home run to tie it,” MTSU head coach Jim McGuire said after the loss. “They got the hitters when it counted, and we did not. They made the plays and the pitches, and that was the difference in the game.
The Blue Raiders got on the board first in the bottom of the opening inning, which started with a triple by lead-off hitter junior shortstop Dustin Delgado. Senior first baseman Trent Miller also tripled to center, which scored Delgado. The second run for MTSU in the inning came when junior catcher Michael Adkins hit a sac fly, which scored Miller to give it a 2-0 advantage.
TTU got on the board in the top of the second when Thomasson crushed a pitch over the left field wall to cut the Blue Raider lead to 2-1.
The Golden Eagles took the lead with three runs off new Blue Raider pitcher junior Matt Blackham in the top of the fifth to take a 4-2 lead.
MTSU retook the lead at 5-4 after scoring three runs in the bottom of the fifth with the bases loaded, including a single to left by senior center fielder Ryan Stephens, which scored senior left fielder Jake Ellison.
TTU took the lead in the top of the eighth, 7-5, after MTSU sophomore reliever Heath Slatton walked two runs, and fellow senior reliever Paul Mittura hit TTU second baseman Zach Zarzour to force in another. Thomasson added a two-run homer in the top of the ninth to put the Golden Eagles ahead 9-5.
TTU junior reliever Jacob Honea picked up the win, while Slatton got the loss for the Blue Raiders. MTSU drops to 1-3, while TTU improves to 3-1 on the season.
MTSU was picked to finish ninth in Conference USA, while TTU was selected to win the OVC. Also, MTSU senior center fielder Ryan Stephens was selected to the Preseason All-C-USA team, while TTU had six players selected to the Preseason All-OVC team.
This weekend, MTSU will host the Mule Mix Classic starting on Friday against Dayton at 3 p.m. On Saturday, the Blue Raiders will host Miami (Ohio) at noon and Indiana State on Sunday at 1 p.m.