Ford hits walk-off single to secure sweep of UALR

Blue Raiders win fifth consecutive game

April 8, 2012 · Athletic Communications
Final Box Score (PDF)

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Ryan Ford stepped to the plate with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth on Sunday afternoon, and the junior responded in a big way, singling to hand the Middle Tennessee baseball team a 4-3 win over UALR to secure the first conference sweep for the Blue Raiders since 2010.

After spotting UALR three runs in the first two innings, the Blue Raiders answered quickly, coming back to tie it in the third, but neither side could push a deciding run across the plate until the ninth.

Ethan Williams, who was making his return from an eight-game absence due to injury, led off the frame with a single to right. A Robert Lawrence walk and Matthew Drake fielder's choice loaded the bases for Ford, who sent the first pitch he saw through the left side of the infield to secure the win.

"It was another tight game, just like yesterday's," Ford said. "We had a lot of opportunities to win it, and after struggling earlier in the game, I was just trying to get contact. I went up with that approach. He threw a first pitch slider, and I just threw my hands at it."

Ford ended the day 2-for-5 with a pair of runs batted in. Lawrence and Williams also had multi-hit days, going 2-for-2.

MT (20-12, 8-4 Sun Belt) turned to its best pitcher this season in Jonathan Sisco, but UALR (16-16, 3-9 Sun Belt) got to him early for a pair of runs in the first. Cameron Bentley led off the game with a double, and a single and a walk loaded the bases for Blake Johnson, who doubled down the left field line to hand UALR its first lead of the series.

Ben Crumpton earned a walk to start off the third and stole second to move into scoring position. A Bentley two-out single scored the run.

That's all the Trojans would get off of the Blue Raider pitching staff as Sisco held them scoreless over the ensuing 3.2 frames to finish the day with 5.1 innings pitched, allowing eight hits allowed and striking out six.

"Sisco struggled from the beginning, but the great thing about him is how much he battles," head coach Steve Peterson said. "He's a very competitive person, and he didn't have very good stuff early. He just kept battling, and the next thing you know, he's pitching in the sixth, and that gave our bullpen a chance."

Joey McClung, Paul Mittura, Cody Tollison and Daniel Palo picked up where Sisco left off, holding the Trojans to just one hit over the final 3.2 innings. Palo picked up the win, his first decision of the season.

UALR, who entered the weekend as statistically the Sun Belt's best offense, was limited to just nine runs and a .214 batting average in three games.

The Blue Raiders evened it up in the third. Ryan Stephens got the rally started with an infield single, and Lawrence picked up a walk to bring the tying run to the plate. Dain McNabb laid a sacrifice bunt down to move the runners to second and third, and Ford singled to center to cut the deficit to two. Guidry pushed a single through the right side in the next at-bat and later scored on a wild pitch to bring it back level.

The Blue Raiders will make a return to non-conference play on Wednesday with a trip up to Clarksville to take on Austin Peay. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.

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