|For the second day in a row Saturday against Bowling Green, Middle Tennessee’s offense gifted the Blue Raiders with a come-from-behind effort to get a win.
The Blue Raiders (3-3), who are 2-0 in the weekend Mule Mix Classic series with one game left, grabbed the lead in the third inning and cruised past the Falcons (0-5) 20-8. It was the first time they’ve scored 20 or more runs in a game since March, 10 2013.
“For the most part, it was a good day for us,” MT head coach Jim McGuire said. “Forty hits over the last two games is a tremendous accomplishment, but there’s a lot of work to do. But, I’m proud of how we made adjustments today.”
A three-inning barrage led to MT’s domination.
Bowling Green held a 2-0 lead in the top of the third inning, but in the bottom of the frame Middle Tennessee’s bats got hot.
The Raiders rattled off seven runs on six hits, two walks and two BGSU errors in the half inning, but they were far from done. They added a six-run inning in the fifth then followed with another seven-run frame in the bottom of the sixth. They finished with 21 total hits.
It was the second time in as many days MT had an offensive explosion in a single inning after scoring eight in the fourth to take down Northwestern 11-4 on Friday.
“Coach was telling us we need to communicate a little more in the dugout about what pitches are being thrown and what we need to be looking for when we go up to bat,” sophomore centerfielder Austin Dennis said. “We’ve done a pretty good job in the last few games with four or five just monster innings. Hitting is obviously contagious, and we’ve shown that.”
The bottom of the order was the spark for the Blue Raiders. The five through nine hitters combined for 13 hits, 12 RBIs and 11 runs scored.
Senior first baseman Kaleb King led the way, going 3-for-5 with a double, three RBIs and two runs scored. The senior first baseman, who went into Saturday tied for second in Conference USA with 11 hits, holds a team-high .519 average on the season.
“I’ve struggled with consistency in my career, but I’m just coming out here and battling and staying the course,” King said. “I feel like I’ve always been physically there, but I’ve had to grow up mentally a little bit. This year, I feel like I’ve had a good approach and gotten some good pitches that I’ve put good swings on.”
With the Blue Raiders’ bats putting pressure on the Falcons’ pitchers, right-hander Tyler Holcombe kept Bowling Green’s hitters subdued.
After starter Tyler Hasper was pulled just 2.1 innings into the game due to a shoulder injury, Holcombe stepped in and guided MT. The redshirt sophomore transfer from Gordon State College went 3.2 innings, giving up one run on three hits, striking out four and walking none in his first career win.
“It was a little awkward, honestly, when Hasper went down,” Holcombe said. “Luckily, the next half inning we had a big inning and it was a little easier to go back out there.”
Other Middle Tennessee leaders at the plate included Riley Delgado, Drew Huff and Chaz Vesser with three hits apiece, and Dennis went 2-for-3 with three walks, three RBI and three runs scored. He also hit a two-run homerun in the sixth, the second dinger of the season for MT.
The Blue Raiders will take on Missouri State at noon on Sunday to finish the Mule Mix Classic.
“It’s a big opponent tomorrow,” McGuire said. “They’re just two years away from being a national seed and winning a regional. We know how competitive and how tough they’ll be.”
All home games will be video streamed through CUSA.tv/RaiderVision. Radio coverage will be provided on 92. 3 FM (WMOT 2). Follow live tweets @MT_Baseball.