Blue Raiders Hang on For 8-7 Victory

April 7, 2006 · MT Media Relations
NEW ORLEANS, La. - Michael McKenry's two-run homer capped a three-run first inning and Matt Scott worked 6.2 effective innings, as Middle Tennessee hung on for an 8-7 victory over New Orleans Friday afternoon at Maestri Field.

The Blue Raiders (13-11, 3-1 SBC) won the first game of the series with good hitting and good starting pitching, then hung on in the final innings to win its fourth straight game on the road in the series between the two teams.

Middle Tennessee scored three times in the first, capped by McKenry's fifth home run of the year. The Blue Raiders added a run in the fourth on an RBI single from Todd Martin. UNO got a two-run homer from Johnny Giovatella and a solo shot by Mike Constantino to cut the lead to one.

The visitors plated two more runs in the fifth on a two-run, bad-hop single from Martin. The Privateers (15-17, 2-5) countered with two runs in the eighth and scored twice in the ninth before David Broussard flied out to end the contest.

Scott (5-1) got the win, avenging his only loss from last season. The righthander worked 6.2 innings, giving up three runs on seven hits with five strikouts before exiting with a blister.

Allan Woodward worked 1.2 innings, striking out five and walking two while allowing four runs. Shay Horseman got one out and Langdon Stanley picked up the save, getting the final out.

UNO starter Matthew Eichholz (2-2) suffered the loss, allowing six runs on six hits in four-plus innings. Ryan O'Shea tossed the final five innings for the Privateers, giving up two unearned runs with five strikeouts.

"Matt Scott threw outstanding. He got in and out of trouble and we had to take him out because of a blister, something that's never happened to him before," head coach Steve Peterson said. "Our bullpen self-destructed but we were able to get big outs. It was huge to get this opening series win."

The Blue Raiders got off to a fast start, scoring three times in the first inning on three hits. Jeff Beachum lined the first pitch of the game into centerfield for a single, stole second and moved to third on a throwing error. Wayne Kendrick drove in the run with a double off the leftfield wall and McKenry followed one batter later with his fifth home run of the season, a two-run shot that cleared the second level of advertising signs in leftcenter with ease.

Kendrick doubled to leadoff the third, moved to third on a groundout by Adam Warren and scored on Martin's two-out single to rightfield for a 4-0 Middle Tennessee lead.

The Privateers cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the inning, though, with Matt Epping blooping a one-out single into centerfield before Giovatella laced a 1-1 pitch just over the rightfield wall for a two-run homer.

UNO made it a one-run game when Constantino drilled the first pitch of the fourth inning over the rightfield wall, cutting the Blue Raiders advantage to 4-3.

But Middle Tennessee came back with two runs in the fifth, ending Eichholz's day. Warren drew a leadoff walk and McKenry followed with a double into rightcenter, sending Eichholz to the showers. Martin's grounder up the middle took a bad hop over Giavotella's glove and into centerfield, plating a pair of runs for a 6-3 Middle Tennessee lead.

The Privateers threatened in the sixth when T.J. Baxter reached on an error by Warren in leftfield and Constantino walked. Broussard's drive into rightcenter looked like it might get down and score a pair of runs, but Marcus Taylor ran a long way into the gap and made a backhanded grab. Jason Schwab then popped out, ending the threat with the Blue Raiders holding the three-run lead.

Taylor saved another run in the seventh, robbing Epping of a home run with a leaping grab in rightfield, keeping the lead at three.

"Marcus Taylor had a bad day at the plate (0-for-4), but won the game with his glove," Peterson added.

UNO finally cut into the lead in the eighth with three hits, two of which never left the infield. Baxter grounded between first and second to reach with one out and Constantino walked. Broussard then blooped a double down the rightfield line, scoring a run, and Schwab's grounder was in the same spot as Baxter's, plating another run. Schwab stole second but Epping took a called third strike with the Blue Raiders clinging to a 6-5 advantage.

Middle Tennessee got the two runs back in the ninth, though, starting with a leadoff double from Josh Horn and Beachum reaching on an error. The rally looked to be over after a sacrifice attempt forced Horn at third and Warren flied out, but McKenry singled through the rightside with two outs to score Beachum and Kendrick made a nice read on a pitch in the dirt, scoring on the wild pitch for an 8-5 edge.

Giovatella walked to leadoff the UNO ninth and Greg Wolfe ripped a hanging slider from Woodward down the rightfield line, just inside the foul pole, cutting the Middle Tennessee lead to 8-7. Woodward got a strikeout and Horseman struck out pinch-hitter Alex Webster before walking Constantino. Stanley threw three straight balls to Broussard before inducing the flyout on a 3-1 pitch to end the contest.

The two teams play again Saturday at 2 p.m. and conclude the series Sunday at 1 p.m.

Adam Warren batted third in the lineup for the first time this season and the first time in his career ... Wayne Kendrick extended his hitting streak to six games with a double in the first. Kendrick also doubled in the third inning, his first career game with a pair of two-baggers ... Michael McKenry extended his hitting streak to five games with a two-run homer in the first ... Adam Warren's four-game hitting streak came to an end after an 0-for-4 performance ... Matt Scott allowed a pair of home runs in the game, only the second time in his career he has given up two round-trippers in the same game. The other time also came this season, March 3 against Missouri State.

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