Middle Tennessee comeback falls short in 12-9 loss at La. Tech

LaRue hits first career home run

March 4, 2011 · Athletic Communications
RUSTON, La. - Middle Tennessee mounted an impressive comeback bid, but it wasn't enough as the Blue Raiders fell to Louisiana Tech 12-9 at J.C. Love Field in Ruston, La., on Friday evening.

"I think we were swinging the bats very well," head coach Steve Peterson said. "It looked like a game where we weren't going to have a chance, and our hitters battled back. We didn't come here to get close though, so that's a bit of a disappointment, but we just have to keep battling."

Middle Tennessee outhit the Bulldogs 15-13 on the day, led by three-hit days from Tyler Acker, Will Skinner and Justin Guidry.

Hunter Adkins started for the Blue Raiders on the mound and allowed 10 runs (nine earned) on 10 hits and five walks over 4.1 innings of work. Joey McClung took over in the fifth, and pitched a scoreless sixth and seventh before allowing a pair of runs, only one of which was earned, in the eighth.

After Louisiana Tech's Mark Threlkeld stole home to take an early one run lead in the first, Middle Tennessee responded in the top of the second. Walking to the plate with two outs, freshman Hank LaRue belted his first career home run over the wall in right center to even things up at 1-1.

LaRue ended the day 1-for-4 with two runs scored and two runs batted in.

Louisiana Tech (7-2) regained the lead in the bottom of the second. After loading the bases with two outs, Will Alvis hit a grand slam to left field to go up 5-1.

Middle Tennessee (1-8) reclaimed a run in the third. Acker reached on a two-out single, and back-to-back singles to left by Skinner and Guidry brought him home.

Skinner went 3-for-5 on the day with three runs batted in and a run scored. Acker finished 3-for-4, his fourth three-hit game of the season, with a walk and two runs scored.

Louisiana Tech sent 11 batters to the plate in the fifth, scoring five and racing out to a 10-2 advantage.

However, the Blue Raiders began close the gap quite a bit in the sixth. LaRue and Matthew Drake opened up with a walk and a single, respectively, and a Trent Miller pinch-hit double brought home the first run of the inning. A fielding error allowed Johnny Thomas to reach base and plate Drake. Robert Lawrence, who came in to pinch run for Miller, scored on a Morris single. Skinner grounded into a fielder's choice later in the inning to bring home Thomas and cut the lead to four at 10-6.

Drake ended the night 2-for-5 with a run scored, and Thomas was 1-for-6 with a run batted in.

Middle Tennessee continued to cut the deficit with three more runs in the eighth. After Jay Morris led off with a walk, Acker and Skinner hit back-to-back doubles to bring MT within two. A Guidry single and a LaRue groundout brought home Skinner.

Guidry finished 3-for-4 at the plate with a walk and an RBI. Morris was 1-for-4 with a pair of walks, a run scored and a run batted in.

The Bulldogs tacked a pair of runs on in the bottom of the eighth, putting it out of reach for the Blue Raiders.

Middle Tennessee will now prepare for the second game of this weekend's series with Louisiana Tech. Daniel Palo is slated to start and first pitch is set for 3 p.m. on Saturday.

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