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Blue Raiders rally to knock off Sun Belt-leading Florida Atlantic

MT earns first league road win

April 12, 2013 · @MTAthletics

BOCA RATON, Fla. - The Blue Raider baseball team rallied for three runs and held on to a 3-2 victory at Florida Atlantic on Friday night at FAU Baseball Stadium.

Solid pitching and outstanding defense pushed Middle Tennessee (20-16, 6-7 Sun Belt) to the victory over the league-leading Owls (22-12, 8-5 SBC). It marked the first conference road win of the season for the Blue Raiders and first win in Boca Raton since 2010.

First baseman Trent Miller led MT offensively, going 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI. Miller scored the Blue Raiders' first run and drove in the game-winning run.

The Owls took a 1-0 lead in the first, capitalizing on a walk to open the game. A wild pitch and bunt moved centerfielder Nathan Pittman to third before he scored on a fielder's choice. FAU added a run in the second on three base-hits and a sacrifice bunt for the 2-0 advantage.

MT rallied in the fourth, scoring a pair of runs to tie the contest. Miller sparked the rally with a leadoff single and second baseman Johnny Thomas followed with a walk. A sacrifice bunt advanced both runners in front of a passed ball, allowing Miller to charge home for the Blue Raiders' first run. Rightfielder Jake Ellison dropped a flare into shallow right, scoring Thomas from third to knot things up at 2-2.

A leadoff single again in the fifth resulted in the go-ahead run for MT. Centerfielder Ryan Stephens hit a soft single into center and moved to second on a sac bunt. Miller ripped a double down the leftfield line to score Stephens easily to make it 3-2.

MT starter Johnathan Frebis (5-3) settled in after the first two innings and a 15-minute lightning delay in the top of the third. Frebis retired seven in a row at one point, giving up two runs on seven hits in five innings. He walked one and struck out three to pick up the win.

The Owls had a chance to tie the game in the eighth after a leadoff single by third baseman Ricky Santiago. Another sac bunt and groundout moved Santiago to third. Second baseman Nicholas Worrall tapped a slow bouncer to third, but a charging Hank LaRue made the scoop and fired to first for the final out to preserve the Blue Raiders' one-run lead.

Daniel Palo tossed the final two shutout innings, giving up just one hit in picking up his fifth save of the year.

Austin Gomber (4-2) took the loss for FAU, going six innings and giving up three runs, two earned, on five hits. He struck out seven and walked four.

The two teams square off again Saturday at 4 p.m. ET. Hunter Adkins will take the mound for the Blue Raiders.

HEAD COACH JIM MCGUIRE
On the rhythm of the game...
"It's hard on days like today. It's very unusual to not take any batting practice at all, no infield and no ground balls. We were way out sync when the game started. Luckily after the second inning things setteld down. We pitched out of some jams. Joey (McClung) and (Daniel) Palo came in and did a great job. That's what got us the win."

On Johnathan Frebis...
"They were getting his pitch count up. That's been his problem the last few times out. With the delays and humidity, it was just different for him. But he gutted it up and got us through the fifth. That was huge. If we had to go to the bullpen earlier than that, I think we would've been in trouble."

On coming back better after the lightning delay...
"I think we were as a team. We got a little more focused. I think it may have hurt them a little bit, and that was to our advantage. (Austin) Gomber is one of the better guys in the league, and he was good again tonight. We had probably six of the softest hits you can get. Sometimes you've got to be lucky. We've been unlucky at times this year, but we got some ball to fall, and Trent got the big hit on the double to put us in the lead. Then we were able to hold on from there."

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