Raiders unable to rally in 2-1 loss to Old Dominion

Stephens belts three hits in tourney-ending loss

May 23, 2014 · @MTAthletics

HATTIESBURG, Miss. - There were plenty of chances for a comeback, but Old Dominion held on to eliminate Middle Tennessee in a 2-1 contest on Friday at the Conference USA Championship. The Blue Raiders finished the 2014 season with a 31-27 overall record, while ODU plays top-seeded Rice on Saturday morning.

The Monarchs (35-23) plated an unearned run in the second inning and added the game-winning run in the third. Ryan Stephens posted Middle Tennessee's lone score with a solo shot in the sixth inning. The Blue Raiders put a runner in scoring position in the seventh and eighth, but were unable to get them across. Friday's one-run affair was the fourth game this season that was decided by one run or less between the two teams.

Lefty Johnathan Frebis (4-6) went a season-long eight innings with two runs allowed, one earned, on eight hits. He struck two and walked two in 108 pitches thrown. Victor Diaz (5-2) collected the win for Old Dominion, giving up an earned run on four hits with five strikeouts in six innings of work. Brad Gero recorded his 12th save this season in a no-hit ninth inning.

Stephens led the Blue Raider attack with three of MT's 6 hits. The Murfreesboro native finished his collegiate career 3-for-4 with a run and a RBI. Austin Bryant, Hank LaRue and Trevor Haggard also collected hits in the loss. MT tallied one run on six hits, committing two errors. ODU scored two runs on eight hits with one fielding miscue.

Old Dominion started the second inning with a Josiah Burney single. 1B Brett Harris reached on a fielding error. Two outs later, Beard laced a single up the middle to score Burney and give Old Dominion an early 1-0 lead.

A Nick Walker single up the middle scored Brian Bashara to push ODU's advantage to two. The Raiders fought back in the sixth, as Stephens belted a solo shot to right field.

Middle Tennessee put runners on in the seventh and eighth inning, but were unable to drive home the equalizing run. The Blue Raiders (31-27, 17-13 C-USA) capped the 2014 season with their most league wins and highest finish in regular season league play since 2010.

NOTES: Coming into Friday's game, there have been 15 rematches in the C-USA Tournament and only six of those teams who won the first meeting won the second ... Ryan Stephens belted his eighth home run of the year to right field in the sixth ... Four of the five games between ODU and MT were decided by a run with both teams 2-2 in those matchups.

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