Kennesaw State dropped two out of three games in a weekend series with Middle Tennessee State — Falling 9-3 on Friday, winning 7-0 on Saturday, and losing 8-6 in Sunday’s rubber match.
“It was disappointing,” KSU head coach Mike Sansing said of the series. “The fact that I felt we were in all three of the games was disappointing. We got up seven (runs) in Saturday’s game, but Friday night was a close game and then they had a big inning and it kind of got away from us. We have to try to control the innings a little better. [Sunday] we jumped out early, and then we didn’t do anything offensively after the six-run spot that we had.”
MTSU opened up scoring in the first inning of Friday’s game as Austin Dennis advanced home on a Blake Benefield groundout, putting the Blue Raiders up 1-0. KSU’s Chris Erwin settled in following the inning, however, as he pitched 6.0 innings and allowed six hits and striking out six.
Erwins’ performance on the mound kept the Owls in the game despite their offensive struggles.
KSU threatened to get on the board in the bottom of the sixth inning when Alex Liquori grounded out to advance Austin Upshaw and Grant Williams to third base with two outs. The Owls were unable to capitalize, however, as Jeremy Howell flew out to right field to end the inning.
Brennan Morgan led off the bottom of the seventh for KSU with a double to left center, later scoring on a David Chabut RBI bunt-single to tie the game 1-1.
The tide began to turn in the eighth inning when Richard Lovelady took over on the mound for Erwin. After forcing the first batter he faced to ground out, he allowed two walks and a double to load the bases. MTSU’s Kevin Sullivan notched an RBI single up the middle to give the Blue Raiders a 2-1 advantage. Following a strikeout, Riley Delgado connected on the first pitch he saw for a three-RBI double down the right field line. Delgado scored on an Austin Dennis single and MTSU led 6-1.
The Owls loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth with two outs, but MTSU’s Cody Pucket struck Justin Motley out swinging to escape the inning unscathed. The Blue Raiders added three runs in the top of the ninth inning to extend their lead to 9-1.
Down to their final out, KSU’s Alex Liquori tripled to left center to pull the Owls within 9-3, but the Owls were unable to string together any form of a comeback as Howell struck out looking to end the game.
Gabe Friese (2-1) kept the Blue Raiders’ bats cool in the Saturday’s meeting as he allowed four hits and struck out 10 while only walking one in 7.0 innings pitched.
Liquori doubled to left center in the bottom of the second inning to score Howell and give the Owls a 1-0 lead. Following nearly four innings of gridlock, KSU extended its advantage with an Upshaw RBI single through the right side.
Chabut doubled down the right field line in the seventh, scoring a pair of runners and putting the Owls up 4-0. Chabut later scored in the inning on a pitching error and KSU held a 5-0 lead heading to the eighth. The Owls added a pair of runs in the eight on a Morgan RBI single and Chabut RBI groundout, respectively.
The Owls entered Sunday’s series finale having outscored opponents 18-7 in the second inning this season. The trend continued as they plated four runs on three consecutive RBI at bats in the bottom of the second. Chabut scored the first run with a bloop RBI single to right field. In the ensuing at-bat, Matt Mixon notched a hit over the glove of the outstretched second baseman for a two-RBI double. Erwin stepped to the plate next and singled to left field to score Chabut and give the Owls a 4-0 lead.
In the top of the fourth inning, MTSU’s Brad Jarreau tripled and later scored on a groundout cut the Blue Raiders’ deficit to three runs. The Owls answered in the bottom of the inning with an Upshaw RBI double followed by a Howell RBI single to open up a 6-1 lead.
MTSU pulled within a run in the top of the fifth inning with an unearned run on a double play ball, followed by an RBI double to right and RBI single up the middle, respectively. The Blue Raiders closed the gap in the eighth on a sacrifice fly as Jarreau tagged from third and scored the tying run.
The Owls stranded a runner on second base in the eighth inning and were retired in order in the ninth to force extra innings.
Jarreau launched one-out, two-run shot over the left centerfield wall in the top of the tenth inning to extend the Blue Raiders lead to 10-8. Morgan led the bottom of the inning off with a single, but MTSU picked up a pair of outs before ending the game on a strikeout for the second time in three games.
KSU will return to action on Tuesday as they host Georgia (12-5) at 5 p.m.