Memphis wins first game of series

Blue Raider relief pitchers roughed up in setback

March 20, 2007 · MT Media Relations
MEMPHIS - Middle Tennessee's bullpen has been more than adequate this season with a 2.90 ERA, and opponents have hit just .224 against Blue Raider relief pitchers; however, those who toed the hill against Memphis did not have one of their better days Tuesday.

Memphis (13-6) broke the game open against the Blue Raider relief pitchers in a 17-3 setback in front of 279 at Nat Buring Stadium The Middle Tennessee relief corps was knocked around for 14 runs, all earned, 13 hits, walked six, hit three, and unleashed four wild pitches in the setback. Most of the damage was done in the fourth and fifth innings when the Tigers sent a combined 18 batters to the plate and scored eight runs. They would add seven in the seventh.

While Middle Tennessee (10-12) was forced to use five pitchers in the setback, Memphis starter Dylan Cupples got stronger as the game progressed. After falling behind 3-1 after the Blue Raiders' first two times at bat, the freshman right-hander followed with 4-2/3 shutout innings before giving way to the Tiger bullpen with 6-2/3 strong innings in the book.

No Blue Raider managed a multi-hit game, although Rawley Bishop extended his hitting streak to 10 games - the highest on the team this season - and Matt Campbell added a hit to increase his hit streak to seven.

Middle Tennessee got on the board first when it took advantage of two first-inning errors by the Tigers. Myles Ervin led off the game with a single and moved to third when catcher Chris Kirkland, attempting to pick Ervin off at first, threw the ball into right. Taylor Dennis then uncorked a deep fly to left that was misplayed by outfielder Will Peterson, allowing Ervin to score.

Memphis evened the game with a run in the bottom of the inning when Bill Moss connected for his team-leading seventh home run - a solo shot into left center.

The Blue Raiders came right back and regained the lead in the top of the second when Campbell's single not only extended his hitting streak to seven games, but also plated Blake McDade, who had started the inning with a walk. Zach Barrett, who singled and moved to third on Campbell's hit, scored on a deep fly ball off the bat of Drew Robertson to stake the Blue Raiders to a 3-1 advantage.

The back-and-forth game continued when Memphis scored a run in the bottom of the second to get to within 3-2. The teams went away from the norm with a scoreless third before the Tigers finally evened the score and chased Middle Tennessee starter Tyler Hyde in the fourth after Michael Murray started the frame with a double.

Middle Tennessee's bullpen has been a strong suit this season but Nick Marrs didn't have one of his better outings in relief of Hyde. After the Tigers advanced Murray to third with a bunt, Marrs unleashed a wild pitch to allow the tying run to score, and then he walked the next three batters in succession to load the bases for Will Peterson.

The Tiger left fielder made up for his earlier error with a run-producing single to give Memphis its first lead, a 4-3 advantage. Moss followed with a hit back up the middle to send two more runners plateward and end the evening for Marrs, who worked one-third of an inning, walked two batters, hit another, and allowed two hits, leading to five Memphis runs.

Southpaw Shay Horseman came on in relief of Marrs and inherited runners at second and third with one out and before the dust had settled Memphis had sent 12 batters to the plate and scored six runs to stake claim to an 8-3 advantage.

The Tigers tacked on two more runs in the fifth to take a commanding 10-3 lead and went on to take the first game of a two-game series. The in-state rivals will conclude the series Wednesday at 4 p.m.

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