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Blue Raiders split doubleheader with Thundering Herd

By Russell Smythia MTN Sports Reporter April 10, 2021

MTSU hosted Marshall for their first home conference games of the season.

The Blue Raiders came into Friday's doubleheader on a two-game losing streak. Meanwhile the Herd entered on a two-game winning streak.

MTSU had never beaten Marshall since joining Conference USA before Friday. The Blue Raiders lost the first game 10-4, but won the second game 9-8 on a walk-off in extra innings.

“It feels really good,” said coach Jeff Breeden. “I hadn’t really thought about the fact that we had never beaten Marshall since joining the conference until I read the preview the other day and that got my attention so I told the kids about it. It feels good, they’re a good team. They’ve always been a good team so we’re fortunate to come out on top tonight.”

The night started with Marshall striking early in game one grabbing a five run lead in the first. MTSU hung around and cut their deficit down to 6-4 entering the seventh inning in game one. Then Marshall scored another four runs in the top of the seventh giving them an insurmountable lead.

When the second game started it was Déjà vu for the Blue Raiders as they got behind early after the Herd platted six runners in the first inning. The Raiders didn't wait long to respond as they got it going in the second inning. They started by drawing three straight walks, then a Lani Rodriguez single scored Jocelynn De La Cruz. Later in the inning Nahri Tath-Slezak walked with the bases still loaded bringing home Lexi Cushing. Two batters later Kelci Hill cleared the bases with her first triple of the season. Mackenzie Hutchinson who started game two as the designated player, drove in the run that tied the game at six through the first two innings.

Neither team did anything offensively in the third inning, but the Blue Raiders took the lead in the bottom of the fourth. Cushing got her first RBI of the day on a fielder’s choice that scored Hill. Marshall answered in the top of the sixth scoring two runs and giving themselves a one run lead again, but MTSU scored in the bottom half leaving the teams tied going into the seventh. Neither team could produce runs in the seventh, eighth, or ninth innings. In the tenth, the Raiders got the bases loaded and Cushing picked up another RBI on a softly hit ball that allowed Hill to score the winning run.

“I just think our kids don’t have any quit in them,” said Breeden. “They want to win. In this one, by the late innings I thought we wanted to win more than our opponents did. We just got a couple of breaks to go our way, made a few great defensive plays, and got some timely hits.”

Amber Baldwin came on in relief in the first inning after the Herd had scored runs from the first four batters of the game. Baldwin pitched all ten innings, only giving up two earned runs while throwing 122 pitches.

“I just knew coming in that I had to make good pitches,” said Bladwin. “Whether or not the ball was put in play, I knew my defense would have my back. I also knew they would have my back on offense as well.”

The Blue Raiders will continue their series with Marshall Saturday at 2 p.m.


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