Blue Raiders drop two heartbreakers to Louisiana Tech

MTSU starting pitcher Aaron Brown lost a tough 1-0 decision to Conference USA West Division lead Louisiana Tech on Saturday. MTSU ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS

After MTSU's Friday night's tough 9-7 loss to No. 16 ranked Louisiana Tech, the Blue Raider baseball team dropped two heartbreakers on Saturday, 1-0 and 5-4, on Saturday at Reese Smith Field.

MTSU fell to 21-20-1 overall and 10-12-1 in Conference USA play, while Louisiana Tech improved to 31-11 and 17-6. 

GAME 1: LA Tech 1, MTSU 0

MTSU found itself on the wrong side of a pitcher's duel, falling 1-0 to begin the afternoon.

Louisiana Tech starter Ryan Jennings threw a complete-game, five-hit shutout for the Bulldogs. The right hander had a 6:1 strikeout to walk ratio.

Louisiana Tech's lone run came on a solo home run in the third inning from right fielder Phillip Matulia, who drove a fastball to right-center field and it hung up just high enough to sneak over the wall. It was his sixth home run of the year.

MTSU junior pitcher Aaron Brown made a historic start in the first game of Saturday's twin-bill. The right-hander struck out a total of seven Bulldogs, moving his season total up to 94.

That total moved Brown into 10th place all-time in program history for single-season strikeouts. Brown broke the record in the top of the fifth inning by striking out Louisiana Tech catcher Jorge Corona on an off-speed pitch. Brown passed Jack Laverety, who struck out a total of 91 hitters in 1973.

"There's a lot of great players on that list right now and it's an honor and a pleasure to be a part of it," Brown said. "It's an honor to be on the list now. We just have to keep throwing strikes as a staff. We were one hit away from winning a couple games today, so we just have to keep going."

Next on the list for Brown is the great Dewon Brazelton, whose total of 98 in 2000 is still good for ninth place in the record books.

"(Brown) pitched great again," Toman said. "It's unfortunate we couldn't get him more runs, but he did a great job out there for us again today. In one regard, it's good that we've been in all three of these games, but on the other hand we need to come up with some more hits and play some better defense."

Offensively for the Blue Raiders, JT Mabry had a multi-hit game, going 2-for-3. Fausto Lopez picked up his team-high 11th double of the season in the bottom of the third by driving a fastball into the left field corner. Hunter Sullivan and Brett Coker also had hits. For Sullivan, he extended his hitting streak to five games and Coker has now hit safely in five of his last six.

GAME 2: LA Tech 5, MT 4

MTSU scored its' first run of the afternoon in the first inning. Lopez led things off with a double to right field and eventually came in to score on a sacrifice fly to right field by designated hitter DJ Wright. For Wright, it was his second RBI of the series and it gave the Blue Raiders an early 1-0 lead.

Blue Raider first baseman Daniel Freeman hit his second home run of the series in the bottom of the third inning to extend the MTSU lead to 2-0. Just as he did Friday, Freeman took an inside pitch and drove it over the left-field wall.

Louisiana Tech scored three unearned runs in the top of the fourth to gain the lead and added an insurance run before Freeman's game-tying single in the bottom of the sixth.

On the mound, Peyton Wigginton followed up Aaron Brown's game-one start with an impressive start of his own. The left-hander allowed just one earned run and racked up five strikeouts in six innings of work, giving the bullpen a much-needed day of rest as the Blue Raiders only had to use David Zoz for one total inning of relief for the bullpen as a whole on the day.

"It's a shame that Brown and Wigginton pitched as well as they did today and we couldn't get a win out of it," Toman said. "We can't feel sorry for ourselves. We've played three games where our last batter could've won the game for us against the No. 16 team in the country. We've been right there."