Weekend wrap up + midweek preview

I said last Thursday that Middle Tennessee was going to show what they were capable of against Louisiana Tech this weekend and they did just that. The Blue Raiders used a variety of strategies to take two of three from the hot-hitting Bulldogs and improved their record to 7-4 as a result of it.

Middle Tennessee's bats finally came to life during the first game of Saturday's double-header, when the Blue Raiders bashed the Bulldogs for 13 runs on 15 hits. Shortstop Ryan Ford earned his spot at the top of the order after going 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs, while right fielder Trent Miller also added three hits of his own – including a late HR.

On the mound, Hunter Adkins got the victory after 5 1/3 innings of work during which he gave up only two earned runs and struck out eight Bulldog hitters. Joey McClung worked 2 1/3 to earn the save – in spite of the extreme margin of victory.

The Blue Raiders dropped the second game of the day by a final score of 4-3 after failing to find the offensive explosiveness put on display in the first matchup. That's not to say that there weren't a few efforts worth noting, as Justin Guidry went 4-for-4 at the plate and the Middle Tennessee bullpen combined to give up only one run in 6 1/3 innings of work.

Luck was in the home team's favor on Sunday, however as the Blue Raiders ended up scoring four runs without a single RBI. Oddly enough, the go-ahead and insurance runs came in the bottom of the sixth inning thanks to a Bulldog balk followed by a pass ball. The stellar outing by Middle Tennessee starter Jonathan Sisco (9 IP, 2 ER, 4 K's) was enough to keep Tech's bats at bay and give Middle Tennessee the series victory.

What'd we learn?

So what should we take away from this successful weekend series at home? Well, first of all, Middle Tennessee can win in a variety of ways. That's a big plus sign heading into conference play in a week and a half. The offense was a definite area of concern headed into this series with the team batting average coming in at a woeful .217. On the weekend the squad put together an improved .304 – aided no doubt by the explosive first game of the series – and while La. Tech isn't exactly throwing All-Americans out there, it's still a positive sign for Middle Tennessee fans.

Equally as exciting is the way in which the pitching staff handled the Bulldog bats – which came into the weekend batting .344 as a team. For Middle Tennessee to stifle that production and only give up 10 runs over the course of 27 innings is a very big positive. Pitching continues to be the strength of this team and will hopefully be enough to carry the squad throughout Sun Belt play.

That said, the offense could stand to be more consistent. With a mid-week series against Southern Illinois (7-4) on deck, Middle Tennessee has an opportunity to show what they can do against a similarly matched opponent on the road. Headed into Tuesday's matchup, the Salukis are batting a combined .298, which is 57 points higher than where the Blue Raiders find themselves after this weekend's series.

On the flip side, the Southern Illinois pitching staff is sporting a 5.35 ERA, which is almost three full runs above Middle Tennessee's 2.43. So while the Salukis have the edge at the plate, the differential in pitching prowess could be enough to give Middle Tennessee the edge.

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