KENNESAW, Ga. – Junior shortstop Riley Delgado led a 13-hit attack with another dazzling offensive performance to lead Middle Tennessee to a 9-3 win and provide his head coach with a milestone victory against Kennesaw State here Friday night.
The Blue Raiders (9-5) took the opening game of the three-game series with stellar starting pitching from senior ace Nate Hoffmann and late-inning offensive heroics. Middle Tennessee won for the fourth straight game and for the fifth time in six outings.
It marked the 100th win for Blue Raider Head Coach Jim McGuire at Middle Tennessee.
Delgado extended his hitting streak to 13 games and raised his batting average to a gaudy .480. He provided his eighth multi-hit game with three of them being three-hit performances. The biggest was his eighth-inning double.
Kennesaw State had tied the game 1-1 in the seventh, but the Blue Raiders came right back in the eighth. Second baseman Kevin Sullivan legged out an infield hit to drive in the go-ahead run. Two batters later, Delgado stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and delivered a two-out, bases-clearing double to provide a 5-1 lead.
Austin Dennis followed with a single to score Delgado as the Blue Raiders came off of the deck with a five-spot in the eighth. They added three in the ninth for insurance.
“Our team is playing well and with confidence,” Blue Raider Head Coach Jim McGuire said. “The guys were clutch when they had to be and this was a big opening win for us. Nate gave us a great start, his best of the year, and we had some timely hitting.”
Middle Tennessee had four players with multi-hit games. Delgado was 3-for-4 with three RBI and one run scored. Dennis was 2-for-5 with one run and one RBI. Brad Jarreau continued his hot streak and was 2-for-5, and Kevin Dupree was 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored. Sullivan was 1-for-3 with two RBI and one run scored.
The game was not the offensive bonanza the score would indicate. In fact, it was a pitcher’s duel for the most part and Hoffman was up to the task.
The senior ace pitched six innings, scattered five hits and allowed one run. He took a no-decision but his effort gave the Blue Raiders a chance at victory.
The Blue Raiders scored one run in the top of the first when Delgado singled to start the game and eventually scored on Blake Benefield’s groundout. Hoffman made the 1-0 lead hold until the Owls (6-7) came through with one run in the bottom of the seventh.
Junior relief ace Cody Puckett provided 2-1/3 inning of relief to earn the win. Puckett improved to 3-0 and continued to be a reliable source of relief out of the pen.
Tyler Troutt will get the start as the Blue Raiders look to win the series Saturday. First pitch is 2 p.m.