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Blue Raiders hold on for win over No. 20 South Alabama

Adkins goes eight innings to pick up win

May 5, 2013 · @MTAthletics

MOBILE, Ala. - The Middle Tennessee baseball team rode a solid performance from starter Hunter Adkins and stifled a ninth-inning rally to hold on for a 6-5 win over No. 20 South Alabama on Sunday afternoon at Stanky Field.

Adkins (5-5) set the tone from the mound, shutting out the Jaguars (36-13, 17-7 SBC) through the first six innings. He went eight innings and allowed two runs, both earned, on seven hits while walking two and fanning six to pick up the win.

For the third time this weekend, the Blue Raiders (26-24, 9-15 Sun Belt) were the first on the board. Third baseman Hank LaRue reached on an error to open the fourth, followed by a double from designated hitter Dalton Henzman and bunt single from rightfielder Jake Ellison to load the bases. Making his first career start at catcher, Connor Tracy collected the first RBI of his career on a grounder to third. Shortstop Ryan Ford's two-out, two-RBI base-knock made it a three-run cushion.

Centerfielder Ryan Stephens increased the lead to 5-0 with his third home run of the season in the seventh. He extended his hitting streak to 13 games with the two-run blast that carried over the rightfield wall.

The Jaguars tallied a pair of runs on back-to-back doubles and an RBI-groundout to cut the deficit to three, but MT recovered one of the runs in the top of the eighth after a leadoff triple from leftfielder Robert Lawrence and a sac fly from Ellison for the 6-2 lead.

That insurance run proved to be crucial in the final inning. Adkins twice stranded a runner at third, including leaving the bases loaded in the eighth, but South Alabama managed to break through again in the ninth. Heath Slatton began the ninth on the mound for MT and gave up a RBI-single before exiting in favor of Aaron Hyder. Hyder walked a pair to load the bases before giving way to Kooper Kessler. A muffed routine grounder to short scored another run, and Kessler then issued a bases-loaded walk to bring the Jaguars within a run. The Blue Raiders closed the door as LaRue stabbed a grounder, stepped on third and fired an off-balance throw to Miller for the tag at first to complete the double play and end the game.

Kessler picked up his first save of the season for the final two-thirds of an inning.

Second baseman Johnny Thomas and leftfielder Robert Lawrence each had two hits in the contest, while Stephens and Ford each drove in a pair of runs.

Jaguar starter Jacob Noble (5-2) took the loss, allowing three runs, none of them earned, on seven hits through six innings.

MT returns home for the final six games of the season, beginning with a three-game series against ULM. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. Friday.

HEAD COACH JIM MCGUIRE
On the game...
"We made a big play at the end of the game and held on for the win. Kind of a sigh of relief at that point when it looked like tragedy was getting ready to strike again. Hank makes a great play on the double play and Trent pulls it in at first and makes the tag to end the game. It was (a great play)."

On Hunter Adkins...
"Hunter did a tremendous job. He came out and threw one of the best games I think he's thrown all year, especially to be on the road to the first place team with our backs again the wall. I was getting ready to get him when he loaded the bases, but I told Coach Meade, "It's his game. Let's let him have it," and he got the fly ball. I'm proud of what he did."

On the bullpen...
"We were skittish going to the bullpen. We were going to keep running guys out there until somebody can throw a strike and get us an out. Kessler did a good job. He got the ground ball that ate (Ryan) Ford up, and then got the double play, but the walk in between, walking a run in, is inexcusable."

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