MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Host Middle Tennessee used a three-run fifth in game one and had the offense powered by the long ball in game two to sweep a doubleheader and Conference USA series from Charlotte on Saturday. The Blue Raiders improve to 8-10 overall, 4-2 in C-USA play while the Niners fall to 3-13-1 remaining winless through two league weekends.
GAME 1: Middle Tennessee 6, Charlotte 2
A leadoff walk by Dustin Delgado in the bottom of the first of game one led to Middle Tennessee’s initial run of the afternoon. After a base hit by Austin Bryant moved Delgado to third, the Blue Raider shortstop would come in on Trent Miller’s sacrifice fly to center for the early lead.
In the second, the Blue Raiders would use a one-out single by Ryan Stephens and a two-out double by Jake Ingold to grab a 2-0 lead.
Middle Tennessee would put together a three-run fifth to open things up to a 5-0 lead in game one. Kaleb King started the frame with a single to center before Delgado, Bryant and Miller reached on three-straight singles, Bryant’s scoring King and Miller’s plating Delgado, for a 4-0 advantage. Trevor Haggard would add a two out single later in the fifth to provide Middle Tennessee with their 5-0 lead.
Charlotte was able to get on the board in the sixth using a leadoff walk by Zach Jarrett and base hit to right by T.J. Nichting. After both moved up 90 feet on separate wild pitches, Eric Eason would bring in Jarrett with his chopper to first before Des Roberts brought home Nichting with a sacrifice fly to center.
Middle Tennessee would add insurance in the sixth as Stephens struck out to start the inning, but reached on a wild pitch by reliever Corbin Shive. Stephens would later score on a fielder’s choice ground out by Ingold making it 6-2.
Delgado, Bryant, Miller and King each had two of Middle Tennessee’s 11 hits in game one. Nichting, Roberts and Brett Lang had the only hits for Charlotte in the opener.
GAME 2: Middle Tennessee 9, Charlotte 1
Charlotte had the first serious threat of the nightcap in the fourth loading the bases with no outs only to come up without a run. Logan Sherer started with a single to left before Mikal Hill and Brett Lang each lined base hits to center loading the bases for Derek Gallello. Gallello would smoke a line drive back up the middle that Blue Raider starter Johnathan Frebis would stick his glove up snagging the liner and turned to second doubling off Hill for two quick outs. The momentum shifted back to Middle Tennessee moments later as a Corbin Shive fielder’s choice ended the inning without a run.
The Blue Raiders would get on the board just two pitches later after Charlotte’s bad luck in the top of the fourth as Jared Allen belted a solo shot to left accounting for the first of four long balls by Middle Tennessee in game two. Stephens added his first of two blasts with a solo shot in the sixth to make it 2-0 before coupling his two-run shot in the eighth, a part of a five-run inning, with Miller’s two-run round-tripper in the seventh.
Charlotte would avoid the shutout in the ninth as Shive lined a solo home run to left, his second of the week, accounting for the Niners third and final run of the doubleheader. Sherer had the only two-hit game for Charlotte in the nightcap as the team tripled its game one hit output with nine in game two.
“I thought we had a very good pregame, had energy and thought the plan was good, and we didn’t play very well,” remarked Head Coach Loren Hibbs postgame. “I thought we play really, really good defense there until the seventh or eighth inning of the second game. We didn’t make any errors for 16 innings and made some really good defensive plays. We just haven’t made pitches when we need to and given up too many runs with two outs.
The Niners will now look towards four-straight back at Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium starting on Wednesday night. Charlotte will host Rider in non-conference action with a 6:00 p.m. first pitch. Tickets for the Rider contest on Wednesday and next weekend’s Conference USA home series with East Carolina are available by contacting the Charlotte 49ers ticket office at 704-687-4949.
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