The MTSU baseball team (5-10) had its five game winning streak against Tennessee snapped tonight as they lost 2-0 in front of a near sellout crowd at Reese Smith Jr. Field. It was the first time since May 10, 2011, which the Blue Raiders had lost to the Volunteers (15-1). It was also the first time since 1977, which MTSU was shutout in back-to-back games.
It was also the 10th time this season out of 15 games, which the Blue Raiders have played in games decided by two runs or less. So far, MTSU is 4-6 in those games decided by that margin. It was the seventh game in a row; the Blue Raiders have played which was decided by two runs or less.
“It has been tough, and the problem is we have been on the short end of those games,” MTSU head coach Jim McGuire said after the loss. “We have pitched plenty well enough, and we have played good enough defense. We just can not get going offensively. We can not get the big hit right now, and we just got to break out of it. We are much better offensively than we are showing. It is time for the hitters to pick it up a little bit and get it going.”
The Blue Raiders had a chance to get on the scoreboard in the bottom of the second with the bases loaded. However, senior right fielder Jake Ellison struck out and freshman catcher Will Schnure was forced out to end the inning and the threat.
The Vols got on the board in the following at-bat, in which they had the bases loaded. During a force out at first, the Blue Raiders tried to turn a double play, but third baseman Taylor Smart scored from third when Schnure dropped the ball at home. The second run of the inning came when right fielder Scott Price scored off a sac fly by center fielder Vincent Jackson.
It was the only runs UT needed all night, and the pitching staff only allowed five hits by the Blue Raiders. UT relief pitcher Peter Lenstrohm picked up the win, while MTSU starter Nathan Foriest took the loss, even through he pitched well by only giving up the two runs.
Coming into the game, the Blue Raiders had lost five of six games, including two of three last weekend in its Conference USA opener at UAB. The Blazers won the final game of the series, last Sunday also 2-0. It was the first time, MTSU, had been shutout in back-to-back games since 1977, when it held scoreless by Vanderbilt and Austin Peay.
While, UT had come into the game on a roll winning its first 14 out of 15 games with its only loss coming at Arizona State on March 7, 3-1. The hot start earned them a spot in several Top 25 polls, including No. 17 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. It was the first time the Vols had been ranked since the 2007 preseason.
“We matched up with them well,” McGuire said. “We had a good game plan going in pitching wise, and I was pleased what we did there. Our pitching lay out exactly like we wanted to, especially getting five innings out of Foriest. We just had the miscues there in the inning that gave them the two runs. They are a very talented team. They are a year older, and that has made a difference. I knew we were up against a pretty good opponent, and they showed it tonight.”
Now, the Blue Raiders turn its attention back to C-USA play with its conference home opener against Charlotte. The 49ers come into the three-game series ranked dead last in the league standings with a 3-10-1 record after defeating VCU tonight. The series with the 49ers begins Friday at 6 p.m. with Saturday’s first pitch at 4 p.m. and the series finale is Sunday at 1 p.m.