Three home runs lift Blue Raiders to series-clinching win over Louisiana
First pitch Sunday changed to NoonMarch 23, 2013 · @MTAthletics
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Blue Raiders belted three home runs en route to a series-clinching 7-5 win over Louisiana on Saturday evening at Reese Smith Jr. Field.
Middle Tennessee (14-10, 2-3 SBC) entered the series with seven home runs on the season and already has six in two games against the Ragin' Cajuns (17-5, 3-2 SBC).
MT catcher Michael Adkins led the way with a 2-for-4, four-RBI performance, including his second home run of the season. Dain McNabb, who served as the designated hitter for the first time in his career, ripped his team-leading third home run and second in as many days. Trent Miller also homered for the first time this season and finished the day 2-for-4.
Starter Johnathan Frebis (3-2) was solid in six innings, giving up two runs on six hits and fanning five. Paul Mittura picked up his fifth save of the season, entering the contest in the ninth in relief of Daniel Palo and working out of a bases-loaded jam to preserve the win.
For the second straight day, Louisiana scored in the top of the first. Back-to-back doubles made it 1-0 Cajuns, but the Blue Raiders also responded in the bottom half of the inning for the second straight day. Shortstop Ryan Ford was hit by the first pitch from Austin Robichaux (3-1) and second baseman Johnny Thomas took a walk to put two on in front of Adkins' two-out, two-RBI base-knock.
The Cajuns got one back in the fifth on a triple and double, but long balls from McNabb and Miller in the fourth and fifth, respectively, gave MT a 4-2 lead.
Three runs in the seventh proved to be the difference in the game for MT, as centerfielder Ryan Stephens' triple down the rightfield line got things rolling. Stephens then scored on a wild pitch for the 5-2 lead.
Thomas walked for the second time on the day, forcing Robichaux from the game in favor of Kendall Mayer. Two batters later, Adkins smashed a 2-2 pitch off the Lee Victory Wall of Champions in left field for the 7-2 advantage.
Louisiana refused to go quietly, though. The Cajuns inched back with a home run from Tyler Girouard in the eighth and rolled into the ninth with three straight hits to score a run. With runners at second and third, Mittura entered the contest and walked Girouard to load the bases. Designated hitter Caleb Adams singled to right to cut MT's advantage to 7-5, but Mittura fanned the next batter and induced a flyout to end the threat.
Robichaux took the loss after allowing six runs on 10 hits and striking out five.
The Blue Raiders look to complete their first sweep of the Cajuns on Sunday. First pitch has been changed to Noon due to the threat of inclement weather.
HEAD COACH JIM MCGUIRE
On Louisiana not giving up in the ninth inning...
"They are very good offensively. Uncomfortable feelings in the ninth inning, but luckily we were able to get through it. I was hoping Daniel would be able to get through it and we wouldn't have to go to Paul, but we did. I just wasn't comfortable with the situation. Paul wasn't real sharp, but he found a way to get it done and that's a huge win for us."
On giving up the run in the first inning...
"I thought Frebis settled down a little more. I know he wasn't as sharp as he has been in his early starts. He got up to 113 pitches and we didn't want to go any more than that. He was starting to get tired and you can't get tired against these guys once you start getting the ball up. I thought from that point on once we settled in and scored a few runs Frebis, got a little more confident and pitched well."
On strong showings at the plate against Robichaux and Mayer...
"That's been their two best guys and we saw them both today. Last year here, Robichaux dominated us. I think he has a chance to be an outstanding pitcher. He got a few balls up and some guys sat on them and we had a huge home run by Michael Adkins. We were fortunate enough to get in situations where we were able to do what we wanted to do and not what we didn't want to do."
SOPHOMORE CATCHER MICHAEL ADKINS
On the power from the catchers...
"I can't tell you exactly where it's coming from. Dain and I are both coming out and passing up on the bad pitches, waiting for the good pitches and taking advantage. Last year, we had a down year and teams would come out and beat us with their pitches, but this year Dain and I are staying on the good pitches and we're hitting well."
Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.
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