Late rallies push Owls past Blue Raiders in doubleheader

MT gets solid starts from Adkins, Curtis

April 14, 2013 · @MTAthletics

BOCA RATON, Fla. - Middle Tennessee led late into both contests at Florida Atlantic, but the Owls rallied to sweep the doubleheader on Sunday afternoon at FAU Baseball Stadium with 5-3 and 8-3 wins.

Hunter Adkins and Zac Curtis were both solid in starts for the Blue Raiders (20-18, 6-9 Sun Belt), but the Owls (24-12, 10-5 SBC) produced a big eighth inning in both contests to take the series.

Second baseman Johnny Thomas led MT offensively, going 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run in game one and 2-for-3 with a run in game two. Leftfielder Dalton Henzman was 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI in game two.

The Blue Raiders return home Tuesday to host Belmont. First pitch is slated for 6 p.m. at Reese Smith Jr. Field.

An eighth-inning rally for Florida Atlantic and 12 Blue Raiders left on base proved to be the difference as Middle Tennessee fell to the Owls, 5-3, in game one of the doubleheader on Sunday morning at FAU Baseball Stadium.

MT starter Hunter Adkins (4-4) retired the first 12 batters he faced before a leadoff single in the fifth broke up his bid for perfection, but it was the late rally by the Owls that handed Adkins the loss. He went seven innings, giving up four runs, all earned, on four hits with three strikeouts and a pair of walks.

The Blue Raiders squeaked out a run in the fourth to take a 1-0 lead, capitalizing on three walks in the frame. After a base-knock from Thomas, FAU starter Jeremy Strawn issued back-to-back walks to load the bases. Rightfielder Jake Ellison took a two-out walk to plate the first run.

Thomas made it a 2-0 contest in the fifth with an RBI-double. Third baseman Hank LaRue reached on a one-out error and worked his way to third on a base-hit from first baseman Trent Miller and another error on a failed pickoff attempt. Thomas laced a two-bagger to right field, scoring LaRue easily for the two-run advantage.

The Owls cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the inning thanks to a leadoff single and sacrifice fly. Designated hitter Tyler Rocklein's base-knock was the first of the game for FAU, and he later scored on rightfielder Corey Keller's fly to right to make it 2-1.

MT added another run in the seventh after designated hitter Robert Lawrence took a two-out walk and moved to second on a balk. Catcher Michael Adkins smacked a single up the middle to once again give the Blue Raiders a two-run cushion.

A four-run eighth gave the Owls their first lead of the contest. A walk and single started the trouble for Hunter Adkins. The Blue Raiders were within inches of a double play on the next batter, as second baseman Robert Buckley popped up a bunt attempt, but the ball hit off the end of Hunter Adkins' outstretched glove to load the bases.

Reliever Paul Mittura entered the contest for MT and gave up a line drive to centerfielder Nathan Pittman that snuck just between Miller's glove and the rightfield line for a two-run double. The go-ahead run scored as Ellison mishandled Pittman's two-bagger. Mittura balked in Pittman for the final run of the game.

Bo Logan (3-0) picked up the win for FAU, tossing just one-third of an inning with zeroes across the board. Hugh Adams earned his 11th save of the year with one inning of one-hit work.

The Blue Raiders quickly rebounded in game two, again jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning. It was Thomas again sparking the offense with a leadoff single. Designated hitter Michael Adkins lined a double off the glove of Keller to put runners at second and third with no outs. Henzman dropped a double just inside the rightfield line to plate both runners. Henzman then moved to third on a deep fly and trotted home on a base-knock to center by catcher Dain McNabb for the 3-0 lead.

After allowing a hit in the first inning, MT starter Zac Curtis clamped down over the middle innings. From the end of the first into the sixth, he retired 15 of 16 batters, including 10 in a row during one stretch.

But the Owls clawed their way back to knot things at three in the seventh. A pair of singles and a walk loaded the bases for second baseman Nicholas Worrall, and reliever Joey McClung hit him to put FAU on the board. Pittman then tied the contest with a single over Henzman's head.

Aaron Hyder (1-1) picked up the final two outs in the seventh before giving up the go-ahead run in the eighth. That's when the wheels fell off for the MT bullpen, as the Owls used a walk, an error and five singles to score five in the frame for the 8-3 lead.

Hyder suffered the loss, tossing just one inning and allowing three runs, two of them earned, on two hits. He struck out one and walked one.

Jake Meiers (3-2) picked up the win for FAU with three innings of hitless ball.

On today's doubleheader...
"We had leads in both games and battled pretty hard. We had two great pitching performances by the two starting pitchers. They both really pitched well and put us in a position to win. We just couldn't get anything going offensively. We had leads, but we were just barely hanging on and you could feel it. That's why they're in first place. They got it done, and we didn't."

On the offense...
"I felt like we were matching up right and we jumped on them and got the three runs, but couldn't muster anything after that. We didn't have as many chances in the second game, but we squandered a lot of opportunities in the first game."

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