Blue Raiders fall in extra innings pitching duel

Roberts impresses in series opener

March 19, 2010 · Athletic Communications
JONESBORO, Ark. - After tying the game in dramatic fashion in the ninth, Middle Tennessee fell in the 10th to Arkansas State in the series opener on Friday night, 4-3.

Blake McDade led off the ninth with a one-out double to left and advanced to third on a Drew Robertson groundout. Facing an 0-2 count with two outs, Justin Guidry singled through the left side to plate McDade for the game-tying score.

Following a strong start by Kenneth Roberts, Kevin Whittaker entered in the bottom of the ninth with the potential game-winning run on third, but forced a double play to escape the inning with the score tied.

The winning run for the Red Wolves crossed the plate in the bottom of the tenth. Todd Baumgartner and Murray Watts led off the inning with back-to-back singles, and Danny Riemenschneider bunted to move Baumgartner to third. Jordan Castaldo singled through the left side for the game-winning hit.

Roberts engaged with ASU starter Andy Ferguson in an outstanding duel of starting pitching. Roberts pitched eight and one-third innings for the Blue Raiders, giving up just two earned runs on eight hits and three walks. His counterpart in Ferguson was equally impressive in giving up two earned on nine hits while striking out seven over eight and two-thirds.

"It was a heck of a game," said Head Coach Steve Peterson. "Two outstanding pitchers went at it, and the difference was that we weren't putting the ball in play early, which let Ferguson get rolling."

The Blue Raiders (11-6) were led offensively by Guidry and McDade, both going 3-4 at the plate with a run batted in. Bryce Brentz and Justin Miller each went 1-4 with a run scored.

The Blue Raiders scored the first run of the game in the top of the fourth. Brentz laced a one-out single up the middle to reach, and stole second. McDade followed up with a single through the right side, and Brentz beat out the throw home to score.

Arkansas State took the lead in the bottom half of the fourth with a pair of two-out runs. Baumgartner led off with a single to center, and after a pair of outs, Castaldo reached on a hit that just missed a diving McDade. Following a passed ball by Drew Robertson that allowed the runners to advance, Kyle DeGrace singled home both Baumgartner and Castaldo.

The Red Wolves padded their lead with another run in the fifth. Michael Faulkner started off with a one-out single, and scored on a deep double down the left field line by Giovanni Garcia.

Middle Tennessee cut the deficit to one in the eighth. Miller opened the frame with a double down the left field line. He would advance to third on a passed ball before scoring on a sacrifice fly to right by Ford.

The Blue Raiders will finish the series tomorrow with a doubleheader at Tomlinson Stadium. First pitch of game one is scheduled for 1 p.m. with the second game starting upon the conclusion. Radio coverage for the games will be available on the Blue Raider Radio Network.

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