Blue Raiders fall to No. 2 Vanderbilt

Commodores and Blue Raiders split season series

April 2, 2013 · @MTAthletics

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Middle Tennessee baseball team suffered a 12-3 loss to No. 2 Vanderbilt on Tuesday night at Hawkins Field.

The Commodores (26-4) jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning. A walk to second baseman Tony Kemp, single by third baseman Xavier Turner and wild throw on the base-knock put runners at first and second to get Vanderbilt's offense rolling. A wild pitch advanced Turner, but catcher Michael Adkins made the throw back to MT starter Jordan Cooper to get Kemp at the plate. Centerfielder Connor Harrell pushed the first run across on a fielder's choice.

The Blue Raiders (16-15) responded with a run of their own in the next half inning to knot things up. Third baseman Robert Lawrence reached on a fielder's choice and back-to-back walks to designated hitter Dalton Henzman and leftfielder Dathan Prewett loaded the bases with two outs. Shortstop Ryan Ford took the bases-loaded walk to make it a 1-1 game.

Vanderbilt shortstop Vince Conde broke up the tie in a big way in the third, hitting a two-out grand slam off reliever Joey McClung to give the Commodores a 5-1 advantage.

The Commodores tacked on another run in the fourth on Turner's RBI-groundout, but MT got it back in the top of the fifth when centerfielder Ryan Stephens drove Ford in with a sacrifice fly to make it 6-2.

Vanderbilt scored the next six runs in the contest, putting three across in the sixth and seventh innings.

MT manufactured another run in the eighth when second baseman Johnny Thomas laced a single to third and beat the throw for an infield hit. Thomas rounded the bases on rightfielder Trent Miller's two-bagger to the gap in left-center to account for the final score.

Miller finished the day 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Cooper (2-2) took the loss with 2.1 innings of work, giving up four runs, all earned, on one hit. He walked four and struck out two. Steven Rice (2-0) picked up the win with 2.2 innings of shutout relief, allowing one hit and fanning three.

The Blue Raiders return home for a three-game Sun Belt series this weekend, hosting the UALR Trojans. First pitch is slated for 6 p.m. on Friday at Reese Smith Jr. Field.

On the grand slam...
"It sent us reeling. We just didn't get anything. We had a chance again early. I'm not saying it was an easy chance, but we couldn't get the big hit right there. (Jordan) Cooper didn't have it tonight. He was behind hitters and got himself in trouble. Then we go to bullpen and give up the grand slam, and that started the downhill slide."

On getting the timely hit...
"That's what we've got to do. That's what we've been lacking. I thought we had the right guys up in that situation, even with two outs. We got rung up and that kind of deflated us."

On Vanderbilt...
"You can't walk them. They're patient, and that's part of their game. They can do a lot of different things and have a lot of different weapons. They do all those little things right, and that puts them in position. They got the bases loaded and took advantage of it, and we didn't."

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