Miller leads Blue Raiders' comeback victory over Tennessee Tech

First baseman went 3-for-5 with four RBI

April 9, 2013 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Middle Tennessee baseball team churned out 14 hits, with six Blue Raiders collecting multi-hit performances, and rallied from a six-run deficit to earn a 12-9 victory over Tennessee Tech on Tuesday night at Reese Smith Jr. Field.

First baseman Trent Miller led the way with a 3-for-5 night, driving in four runs in the contest. Centerfielder Ryan Stephens collected a pair of RBI and hit his first home run of the season.

It was déjà vu for MT (19-16), as the Blue Raiders also rallied from a six-run deficit for the win the last time the two teams met in February.

The two teams traded runs in the first, with the Golden Eagles scoring on a fielder's choice and Stephens sending the first pitch he saw over the leftfield wall.

TTU (23-10) scored three in the second and added three more in the fourth to go up 7-1 before MT's explosive fifth inning. Catcher Michael Adkins got the rally going with a leadoff double and rightfielder Jake Ellison followed suit with a two-bagger to drive him home. Leftfielder Dalton Henzman and Stephens cut the deficit to three with RBI-singles before Miller lined a bases-loaded single into centerfield to bring the Blue Raiders within a run. Third baseman Hank LaRue, standing on third after Miller's base-hit, charged home on a wild pitch to tie the game.

While MT's offense came alive, MT reliever Heath Slatton stabilized things from the mound. Slatton (1-1) entered the contest in the fourth and produced the first 1-2-3 inning in the fifth. The freshman picked up his first collegiate victory with 2.2 innings, giving up two runs, only one earned, on three hits. He struck out four and walked one.

The Golden Eagles responded in the top of the sixth to re-take the lead. Henzman threw a strike to the plate from leftfield to peg a runner out and keep things tied for the time being, but TTU broke up the tie on a run-scoring error and plated another run on a single from third baseman Daniel Miles.

The seesaw affair continued into the bottom half of the inning, with the Blue Raiders putting up a three-spot to take the lead again. Henzman was hit by a pitch to open the frame, and he made his way around the bases when designated hitter Robert Lawrence ripped a triple to the left-center gap. Lawrence scored easily on a base-knock from Ford, handing the lead back to the Blue Raiders at 10-9.

MT relievers Joey McClung and Daniel Palo combined to shut out the Golden Eagles over the final three innings. McClung went 1.2 and gave up a hit, while Palo was untouchable with three strikeouts, no hits and no walks in the final 1.1 innings to pick up his fourth save of the year.

The Blue Raiders tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the seventh thanks to a two-out, two-RBI double from Miller to account for the 12-9 final score.

David Hess (3-2) took the loss for TTU, going 1.1 innings and allowing three runs on three hits with three walks.

MT hits the road this weekend, returning to conference play with a three-game series at Florida Atlantic. First pitch Friday is 5:30 p.m. CT.

On having to not come back once but twice during the game...
"They brought Hess in and that is one of their best relievers and we knew that, but he is a tough pitcher. Fortunately, we were able to get on him pretty quickly and score some runs and take the lead. Once we took the lead you could see the momentum swing over to our dugout."

On struggling early against Baugh before figuring it out...
"He's a big time strike thrower and he always has been. I saw him pitch a lot in high school and he competes well. He is always around the zone and we usually do better against those guys. We hit a couple balls hard early but all of a sudden once we got our timing and rhythm that enabled us to get into their bullpen, which you could see they did not want to do."

On the key offensively to grind out the win when seeing several styles of pitching...
"I thought our approach was much better. I thought we focused more on trying to hit the ball to the center of the field. Seeing so many styles in one game makes you concentrate on driving the ball more with the wind. They challenged us in certain counts and we made them pay and that's what we have not been doing in previous games. Luckily tonight we got some barrels on some baseballs and drove it pretty good."

On tonight's game...
"We have a lot of older guys and the experience helps. Coach McGuire is always tells us to stay in the game, and never give up. We struggled a lot early this season with hitting, but the last couple games it's been coming around. We have done a better job recently with grinding out at-bats and getting runs and we kind of exploded tonight in the middle innings."

On defense tonight...
"I came in as an outfielder and have played a variety of positions. Wherever I end up getting put in the field, I give it my best effort. I was able to come up with a nice play in the outfield there, but Mike made a good catch and tag also, otherwise there would've been a run scored. So he did a great job backing me up on it, I just tried to get it to him and make the play happen."

On tonight's game...
"Our coaches had a huge influence tonight, telling us to keep grinding away at them. We've had a huge last four or five games, just getting good at-bats, getting guys on base and then executing. We left a lot of guys on base earlier this season, but we're executing a lot better now. Tonight started shaky, 7-1 is a big hole to dig out of, but we had guys pick each other up all night and led to the big comeback."

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