Cooper fans 10 in Blue Raiders' 2-1 win over Memphis

MT wins fifth straight

March 26, 2013 · @MTAthletics

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Middle Tennessee starter Jordan Cooper struck out 10 over six innings en route to a 2-1 victory over Memphis on Tuesday night at FedEx Park. It marked the fifth straight win for the Blue Raiders.

Cooper (2-1) gave up just three hits and walked two in the shutout performance. He is the first Blue Raider to fan 10 or more since Brad Robinson struck out 10 against WKU on May 17, 2007.

Paul Mittura picked up his sixth save of the year after closing the final 1.2 innings. Mittura came in with the potential tying run at third and one out and proceeded to retire five straight batters.

Second baseman Johnny Thomas led MT (16-10) offensively with a 2-for-3 day at the plate. He also drove in the Blue Raiders' first run of the game.

The Blue Raiders capitalized on three singles and an error to push two runs across in the third. Designated hitter Dain McNabb and shortstop Ryan Ford smacked back-to-back base-hits, then centerfielder Ryan Stephens reached on error to load the bases. Thomas followed with a blooper to shallow center to plate the first run and keep the bases loaded. A two-out walk to catcher Michael Adkins forced in another run for the 2-0 lead.

The game turned into a pitcher's duel after the third, with Cooper and Tiger starter Michael Wills (1-2) stifling the offense on both sides. Cooper retired nine in a row at one stretch and fanned five straight in the third and fourth, including four in the latter frame after dropped third strike resulted in a base-runner.

Wills limited the Blue Raiders to just three hits over the next five innings before exiting in the eighth. He gave up a leadoff single to Thomas in the eighth, then first baseman Trent Miller was robbed of a home run on an over-the-wall catch by leftfielder Colton Simbeck. Wills committed an error on the next play, forcing him from the game in favor of Heith Hatfield.

The Tigers (13-11) managed to score a run in the seventh off reliever Joey McClung. First baseman Carter White was hit by a pitch and moved around on a wild pitch and passed ball before scoring on a groundout.

Aaron Hyder came on for the eighth inning and put two on before giving way to Mittura, who sealed the victory.

The two teams square off again Wednesday at 4 p.m. Garrett Ring will take the mound of the Blue Raiders.

On Cooper's performance...
"I thought he was outstanding. He competed great. He battled. I'm not saying early on he had his best stuff, but boy, once he got it going, he struck out four in one inning. That's something you don't see very often. If he doesn't throw like he did tonight, we don't win the game. That's the bottom line."

On Mittura closing...
"He just came in and did a great job. He's really been doing it all year. To get the strikeout in that situation was huge. Anything else scores a run and puts our backs against the wall. I was very happy with the way he threw and the way he came in aggressively."

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