Murfreesboro, Tenn. (March 19, 2002) - Middle Tennessee State jumped off to a hot start against East Tennessee State, notching an early 7-0 lead before hanging on to outlast the Bucs, 10-8, in baseball action tonight.
MTSU (12-5) started off the game hot, drawing first blood in the game in the Blue Raiders first at bat. Leadoff hitter Chuck Akers was hit by ETSU (6-11) starter Mike Bauer (Kingsport, Tenn.), stole second, and then came home on an RBI single from Justin Sims. In the third Sims struck again, this time blasting a two-run homer to put the Blue Raiders up 3-0.
A four-run fourth by MTSU put the Bucs in a hole they could not dig out of. Doug Kunicki started the inning with a leadoff double, moved to third on a wild pitch and then scored on a passed ball. An error on ETSU left fielder Matt Traylor (Knoxville, Tenn.) set up a two-run home run off the bat of Troy Harp to make it 6-0. MTSU's next two hitters then singled, ending Bauer's evening. Jackson Simerly (Bluff City, Tenn.) then came on to pitch and gave up a run-scoring single to Sims that closed out the scoring in the inning.
ETSU rallied in the top of the fifth, however, to make it a ballgame again. With one out, Traylor was hit by the pitch and then Jeremy Terry (Cumberland, Ky.) followed with a single. Bryan Crouse (Kingston, Tenn.) singled home Traylor before Chad Boruff (Knoxville, Tenn.) was hit to load the bases for Brandon Cross (Bluff City, Tenn.). Cross responded with a single to left that scored Terry and Crouse to make it a 7-3 game. Scott Rose (Soddy-Daisy, Tenn.) later came up with a two-run double to finish the scoring.
Middle Tennessee State was not done, and came back with two in the bottom of the fifth when Akers was hit by the pitch for a second time with the bases loaded and a sac fly. The Blue Raiders then added another in the sixth on a Seth Yarbrough double to make it 10-5.
East Tennessee State added single runs in each of the last three innings to get back into the game. Boruff scored in the seventh on a balk and Traylor scored in the eighth after singling and then coming around to score when MTSU's right fielder, Marshall Nisbett, misplayed a fly ball off the bat of Terry. ETSU closed out the scoring with a run in the ninth on a double by Kirk Keithly (Peoria, Ill.) and a single by Rose.
Keithly led ETSU's 10-hit attack with a 3-for-4 night while Sims led MTSU with three hits and four RBI. Bauer took the loss for the Bucs, surrendering nine runs, seven earned, in 3.1 innings. Adam Larson picked up the win with two innings of hitless relief, with Jeremy Armstrong going the final 2.1 innings to pick up the save.
The two teams will square off again on Wednesday afternoon, with game time scheduled for 3:00 p.m.