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Blue Raiders drop 10th inning heartbreaker to Jacksonville State

Henzman homers in first career start

February 27, 2011 · Athletic Communications
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Middle Tennessee baseball team entered the ninth inning with a 9-3 lead, but a dramatic comeback by Jacksonville State pushed the game to 10 innings, where the Gamecocks ultimately won 12-9 at Reese Smith Jr. Field on Sunday.

"I never really felt that we had this game wrapped up," head coach Steve Peterson said. "My hat's off to Jacksonville State. They could've settled for winning the series, but they kept battling out there today. They are a good team. I never felt comfortable with the lead."

After a 14-inning showdown in Saturday's meeting, the Blue Raiders turned to veteran right-hander Jud Stoltz on the mound. The senior put up six strong innings in just his eleventh career start, allowing six hits and two earned runs.

"Jud pitched an outstanding ball game," Peterson said. "I'm very proud of him today, and hopefully, he'll be able to continue it as the season goes on. He had good location and good movement."

Justin Guidry came in for relief in the seventh and gave up six earned runs, including five in the ninth.

Tollison took over and recorded the final two outs of the frame, but allowed the tying run to score. JSU scored three more times in the 10th, tabbing the freshman his first loss of the season.

The Blue Raiders (1-6) raced out to an early lead thanks to homers from Dalton Henzman, Will Skinner and Davis Pearce.

Making his first career start in right field, Henzman walked to the plate down 1-0 in the bottom the of the second. The Lexington, Ky., native responded by blasting his first career home run over the wall in left field.

Henzman finished the day 3-for-5 with three runs scored, a home run and a pair of doubles.

Middle Tennessee grabbed the lead with a five-run frame an inning later. After Johnny Thomas and Tyler Acker reached base, Will Skinner slugged a monstrous shot to center field to hand MT a 4-1 lead. Pearce followed it up just moments later with a solo shot to right field. The duo, both Murfreesboro natives, became the first to homer in back-to-back at bats since Guidry and former Blue Raider Tyler Burnett accomplished the feat in February of last year.

Skinner ended the game 3-for-5 with a run scored and three runs batted in. Pearce went 1-for-6 with a pair of RBI.

Back-to-back doubles by Henzman and Hank LaRue allowed Middle Tennessee to tack on one more run in the third to take a 6-1 advantage over the Gamecocks.

After Jacksonville State reclaimed a run, MT added three more in the bottom of the seventh. With the bases loaded, Pearce grounded out to score Acker for the first run of the inning. Henzman struck out swinging, but reached on a wild pitch to load the bases for LaRue, who singled up the middle to plate Guidry. A throwing error by JSU catcher Stephen Bartlett brought home the final run of the inning, giving Middle Tennessee a 9-2 edge.

Both Acker and LaRue ended the day with a pair of hits apiece. Acker also tallied two runs scored and LaRue knocked in two.

Guidry ended the day 3-for-6 with a run scored.

Jacksonville State (3-2) turned to Sam Eberle to fuel their comeback effort. After homering in the eighth, a trio of Gamecock pinch hitters loaded the bases for him in the ninth, and the third baseman responded with a grand slam to cut the deficit to two at 9-7.

With Tollison on the mound later in the inning, Andre Bishop laced a two-out double to even things up. JSU loaded the bases once more, but Tollison forced a groundout to end the frame.

Henzman hit a one-out double in the ninth, but failed to score, sending the game into extra innings for the second consecutive day.

A Coty Blanchard double gave JSU their first lead since the second inning, and Bishop recorded a sacrifice fly to give the Gamecocks a 12-9 edge.

Jacksonville State weathered a late threat from the Blue Raiders in the bottom of the frame. Both Jordan Rorex and Skinner moved into scoring position with two outs, but Pearce struck out swinging to end the game.

Middle Tennessee will close out their current homestand on Tuesday when they host in-state foe Lipscomb at Reese Smith Jr. Field. First pitch is set for 3 p.m.

Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.