Panthers slip past Blue Raiders to take 7-4 win

Miller hits third home run of season

April 20, 2013 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Blue Raiders baseball team rallied from a two-run deficit to tie the game, but came up on the short end of a 7-4 loss to the FIU Panthers on Saturday evening at Reese Smith Jr. Field.

First baseman Trent Miller homered for the third time this season and finished the day 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs. First baseman Hank LaRue also had a multi-hit day, going 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run.

The Panthers (22-16, 10-7 Sun Belt) took a 2-0 lead in the second on an RBI-double and sacrifice fly, but Middle Tennessee (21-20, 6-11 SBC) cut the lead in half in the bottom half of the frame. Miller roped a leadoff double down the leftfield line and designated hitter Dain McNabb drove him home with a base-knock to left to make it 2-1.

FIU made it a two-run cushion again in the third on a solo shot from leftfielder Zach Sweety, but Miller's two-run blast in the bottom of the inning knotted the contest at 3-3.

The Panthers regained the lead in fifth thanks to shortstop Edwin Rios' two-run double.

MT starter Hunter Adkins (4-5) exited with the Blue Raiders trailing 5-3, giving way to Aaron Hyder. Adkins allowed five runs, all earned, on eight hits with a walk and a strikeout in four innings of work.

Hyder kept the Panthers in check through the rest of the fifth and into the seventh until another solo shot widened the margin to 6-3. Prior to the home run, Hyder had retired seven straight. He would finish the contest with two runs, both earned, and two hits to his credit in 3.1 innings.

The Blue Raiders got the run back in the seventh when LaRue plated shortstop Ryan Ford on a sac fly to make it a two-run game, 6-4, but FIU pushed the lead back to three in the top of the eighth on a bases-loaded walk to account for the final score.

Alberto Cardenas (1-0) earned the win in relief for FIU, going 5.1 innings and giving up a run on three hits with three strikeouts and no walks.

The two teams will square off for the series finale on Sunday at Noon. Zac Curtis will take the mound for the Blue Raiders.

On closing the gap only to let it go right away...
"We battled to get ourselves back in the game and close the gap, but giving up the run in the seventh and the eighth hurt. We gave them two runs and let them have the lead. When you give them the lead with their bullpen, it is going to be very tough to beat them. Their starters for the whole season have been okay, but they really rely on their bullpen. Their guy came in today and shut us down. We scratched out the one run but couldn't make it last."

On not capitalizing on opportunities early in the game...
"We ran in the first inning on a 3-1 count and the ball ends up right on top of the bag for the shortstop to make the double play. We don't execute the bunt with first and second and nobody out. Dain (McNabb) got a big hit to get us a run closer at that point, but you've got to take advantage when you get those opportunities. That is something we have not done these past two weekends and it has showed."

Thoughts on the pitching today...
"Not getting but four innings out of Hunter (Adkins) today put us in a bind and got us in the same situation we were in a week ago. He wasn't very good, he had the ball up and they took advantage of it. To get a ball into right field today you have to hit the ball tremendously hard and it was. We tried to get to Hyder as quick as we could, and I thought he came in and did a very good job. Other than the home run, we got a lot out of him to be able to do what he did for three and a third. I know we gave up the run late, but Hyder kept us right there and gave us a chance, but we couldn't get anything going."

On today's game...
"They're a good team and they just beat us today. Their pitchers are really good and they proved that today. We jumped back early and tied it at three, that was huge. But we didn't keep fighting. But we'll jump back tomorrow, we obviously have in the past and we can look back on that to move forward from this loss. We just have to come back tomorrow and be ready to play. Every day is a new day and we have another chance tomorrow."

On conference standings...
"We can't scoreboard watch. We kind of did that my first year and it didn't turn out well for us. But you can't do that. You start worrying about what other teams can do and not so much about yourself. For example at the conference tournament last year we lost the first game but then won the next two, but we had to wait for what someone else did. It's tough being in eighth place, but right now we control our own destiny and that's a good feeling."

On the home run...
"It was a hanging slider and a couple guys before me told me it wasn't breaking as much. I was looking fastball, but just kept my hands back, got a good swing on it and just did what I could with. But we had some other big hits with Hank and that one in the ninth for Rob was a great hit in the gap, their guy just made a great play on it. We just have to tip our hats to him because he's done that a few times this series. But we just need to keep grinding, keep getting guys on and moving them over like the fundamentals of baseball."

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