Taylor, Kasser Lead 6-4 Win Over Vandy

May 11, 2005 · MT Media Relations
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Marcus Taylor doubled, homered, had three RBIs and scored three times, and Jeff Kasser worked a season-long 5.2 innings to get the victory in a 6-4 Middle Tennessee win over Vanderbilt Wednesday night at Hawkins Field.

Taylor scored in the third, fourth and sixth innings, belting a two-run home run and driving in another run with a chopper, as the Blue Raiders (25-20) led almost the whole game, avenging an earlier loss this season to the Commodores.

Jeff Beachum added three hits, including a double and a triple, and scored twice in the victory, Middle Tennessee's sixth in the last eight contests. The Blue Raider bullpen worked 3.1 innings of relief, allowing one run on four hits. Allan Woodward got the final three outs for his third save of the year.

Kasser (1-3) had not worked more than 3.2 innings in a game this season and had just three starts all season heading into the contest. But the righthander could not have picked a more perfect time to come up with perhaps the best outing of his career, working in-and-out of trouble in allowing three runs on eight hits. He walked one and struck out four.

Eric McNamee and Adam Darby both added a pair of hits for the Blue Raiders in the win.

Vanderbilt stranded nine in the contest, including two each in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. Mike Baxter, Carter Hawkins and Matt Zeller all had two hits for the Commodores, with Baxter driving in three runs and Alex Feinberg scoring twice.

Ryan Rote (1-3), the second of four VU hurlers, took the loss, giving up three runs on three hits in two innings of work. Jeff Sues came in the shut down the Blue Raiders, striking out five in 3.2 scoreless innings.

The Commodores (30-17) had the first scoring opportunity, with Hawkins singling with two outs in the second inning and Zeller following with a double to right. But Kasser struck out Shea Robin on three pitches to end the threat with no score.

Taylor led off the top of the third with a double to rightcenter, setting up a scoring chance for the Blue Raiders. Josh Archer then drew a one-out walk.

McNamee hit a ball up the middle that was headed for centerfield, but it bounced off the back of the mound, allowing VU shortstop Dominic de la Osa to force Archer at second base. Buschmann tried to pick off McNamee at first, but the throw bounced away and an alert Taylor hustled in from third for a 1-0 Middle Tennessee lead.

The lead was short-lived, with the Commodores pushing across a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning. Feinberg walked with one out and Antoan Richardson followed with a beautiful bunt single. With two outs Baxter doubled off the wall in rightfield, plating both runners for a 2-1 VU lead.

The Blue Raiders came right back in the fourth, with Nathan Hines greeting Rote with a one-out double to left. Beachum followed with a slicing line drive down the rightfield line, past a diving Zeller, a run-scoring triple for Beachum. Taylor then belted a 2-0 pitch over the 400-foot sign in dead centerfield for a two-run homer, his seventh of the season, giving the visitors a 4-2 advantage.

Hawkins got things going for Vandy with a one-out double in the bottom of the fourth and scored on a two-out single to left from Robin.

Middle Tennessee added to its lead in the sixth, starting with a one-out double off the leftfield wall from Beachum. The runner went to third on a wild pitch and scored on Taylor's high chopper to the third base side of the mound.

The throw from Stephen Shao went to the plate and home plate umpire David Grooms called Beachum out on a bang-bang play, but the other umpires gathered to inform Grooms the catcher had dropped the ball and Beachum was called safe on the play.

Adam Warren followed with a perfectly executed hit-and-run, putting runners on the corners for Archer, who singled home Taylor for a 6-3 Blue Raiders lead.

VU threatened in the bottom of the inning against Kasser, as the righthander hit Hawkins with two outs. Zeller singled sharply to center, chasing Kasser from the game with the tying run at the plate. But reliever Eric Blevins came on to strike out Robin, stranding a pair of Commodores with Middle Tennessee holding onto the three-run edge.

Vandy cut into the lead in the seventh with a one-out single from Feinberg and a two-out single by Warner Jones. Baxter then blooped a single into short leftfield, plating Feinberg and cutting the deficit to 6-4.

A leadoff error in the bottom of the eighth almost cost Middle Tennessee, but reliever Chase Swing was able to pitch around the miscue.

Hawkins reached on a throwing error by third baseman Nate Jaggers. Pinch-hitter Brian Hernandez looked to tie the game with one out, but missed a home run by just a few feet, off the top of the 35-foot wall in leftfield, putting runners on second and third with one out.

Aaron Garza's bouncer off the end of the bat to McNamee at second turned into a bit of a circus, with Hawkins first caught in a rundown and then Hernandez trapped between second and third. Beachum got the out with Garza moving all the way to second. But Swing got a fly ball from Feinberg for the third out with the Raiders clinging to a 6-4 advantage.

Woodward worked a perfect ninth for his third save of the season.

The Blue Raiders take on 19th-ranked Louisiana-Lafayette this weekend on the road, beginning Friday at 6:30 p.m.

Eric McNamee extended his hitting streak to five games with a leadoff single in the first ... Adam Darby extended his hitting streak to six games with a single in the third ... Nathan Hines extended his hitting streak to six games with a double in the fourth ... Jeff Kasser worked a season-long 5.2 innings in the contest. His previous long this season was 3.2 versus Southeastern Louisiana on March 6. It was also the second-longest outing of Kasser's career, with only his seven innings of work against Austin Peay on April 21, 2004, longer.

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