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Blue Raiders pummel Xavier in series finale

Offense explodes for 26 hits in 24-4 win

March 10, 2013 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Middle Tennessee's bats exploded for 26 hits in a 24-4 victory over Xavier in the series' finale on Sunday at Reese Smith Jr. Field.

The Blue Raiders (10-5) scored at least two runs in all but one inning, racking up 18 unanswered scores between the third and ninth inning, while the Musketeers (5-8) managed just eight hits in the contest, three of which came in the final inning.

Zac Curtis (3-1) took the mound to start, throwing six complete innings and allowing just three runs on five hits.  He struck out five, and is now tied with Hunter Adkins for the team lead in wins.

Offensively, every Blue Raider starter had at least one hit, and Dain McNabb was an impressive 3-for-5 with five RBI in the contest.  Additionally, Ryan Ford had four RBI in a 3-for-7 performance, while Robert Lawrence was 3-for-6 with three RBI.

All-in-all, eight MT batters had multi-hit games, as Ford, Hank LaRue, Trent Miller, Jake Ellison and McNabb had doubles, and Ford and Lawrence each tallied their first triples of the season.

MT scored at least 20 runs in a game for the first time since 2010, when they had 21 against Lipscomb on March 31.

Defensively, MT stranded six Xavier base runners, and shut down numerous threats with four double plays in the game, including three in the first five innings.

MT jumped out right away in the first, scoring six runs on six hits and an error, setting the tone for a game that tilted MT's way nearly the entire day.  McNabb picked up the big hit of the inning, a two-out double down the left field line, scoring Lawrence and Ellison.

In the top of the second, Xavier was able to get to Curtis shortly, scoring three runs, but MT's pitcher worked out of a jam, ending the inning with three Musketeers on-base.  From there, Curtis settled in, retiring seven of the next nine batters he faced, including a two-strikeout inning in the fourth.

Aaron Hyder replaced Curtis in the seventh, and threw 2.0 innings, allowing just one base runner in the span and striking out four.  

MT's second-biggest inning of the day was the eighth, when the squad tacked on five runs to its lead.  Heath Slatton led off the inning with a walk, followed by back-to-back singles from Connor Tracy and Trevor Haggard to load the bases.  With one-out, Lawrence reached on a fielder's choice, scoring Slatton and moving each runner up.  Haggard reached second safely after a throwing error by Xavier's Michael Moore on the play.  From there, McNabb grounded out to first, scoring Tracy, and Ford laced a two-out triple to right center, scoring Haggard and Lawrence.  Ford scored the next at-bat on a Dalton Henzman single.

Daniel Palo threw the ninth, giving up three hits and run.  For Xavier, Tyler Koors (1-2) took the loss after allowing eight runs (four earned) in 3.0 innings pitched.

The Blue Raiders continue their home stand next week in a two-game series with Southern Illinois, March 8 and 9.  Tuesday's first pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m., and will be part of the $2 Tuesday promotion, featuring $2 dollar hot dogs and soft drinks for fans.

HEAD COACH JIM MCGUIRE

On today's game...
"The wind was blowing out today and the way Xavier's been swinging the bat the last couple days, you just never know what could happen. I've been in enough 21- 20 games in this ballpark that you didn't know if today was going to be one of those days or not. But Zac Curtis really prevented that from happening."

On Zac Curtis's pitching performance...
"He didn't have his best stuff today, but after that second inning he really settled down and got through it. And Dain really helped him get through it. He's you're typical Sunday starter guy. He's going to throw a lot of pitches and walk a few guys. But he's a tremendous competitor and doesn't like to get beat. So he's going to do what he needs to, to get through it."

On rebounding from yesterday...
"That's the beauty of baseball. You don't have to wait a week or three or four days to go back out there. As bad as yesterday was, today was that much better. It was a day where we needed to get the bats going and feel that comfort level again. We got some runs early and that's what made the difference, being able to get that lead and then relax and just play the game."

SENIOR CATCHER DAIN MCNABB

On today's game...
"I came out here today and wanted to hit balls in early counts. I knew because I was hitting at the bottom of the lineup I was going to see a lot of fastballs early. That's my approach right now-trying to get a fastball and see what I can do with it."

On Curtis's pitching today...
"He came out in the second after we got that big lead and I think got too relaxed. But he did a good job of being a bulldog and just throwing the baseball well, and that's why he got through six innings."

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