MTSU romps past Bucs

By Matt Hill
STAR STAFF
mhill@starhq.com

   JOHNSON CITY- The Middle Tennessee State baseball players didn't need to eat Wednesday night. That's because the Blue Raider hitters had ETSU pitching for lunch earlier in the day.
   The Blue Raiders had 14 hits, and hit three home runs en route to defeating the East Tennessee State Buccaneers 12-3 in non-conference baseball action Wednesday afternoon at Howard Johnson Field.
   Five ETSU errors also led to the Bucs' demise.
   ETSU head coach Tony Skole was very disappointed with his team's pitching and defense on Wednesday.
   "You've got to come out against good teams and throw strikes," Skole said. "You've got to give your team a chance, and you've got to play defense. Pitching and defense are what wins games for you, and timely hitting, and we didn't have much of that today. We gave them some extra outs, and when you do that against good teams it's going to haunt you every time."
   Mike Bauer started the game for the Bucs, but was pulled in the second inning. Trevor Smith, Caleb Moore, Josh Kite, plus weekend starters Donnie Sharp and Reid Casey all had stints on the mound for the Buccaneers.
   "Today was sort of a committee day," Skole said. "We wanted to give Bauer some innings. We were going to start (Matt) Hensley, but he has a sore arm and a tender elbow. We wanted to give everybody some work. Caleb hasn't pitched very much, and he got hit around a little bit. I thought Trevor did well, and Kite threw a scoreless inning. We need to get him back into the mix. I thought Donnie and Reid threw well.
   "It was just a couple of big innings here or there that hurt us. When you fall behind hitters, most of the time they're going to get you."
   The three runs in the second inning by the Blue Raiders put the visitors ahead 4-2, but the fifth and sixth innings really damaged ETSU's chances.
   With one run already scored in the top of the fifth, MTSU had two men on when Derek Phillips came up to the plate.
   Caleb Moore had just come into the game in relief of Smith, and Phillips welcomed Moore with a three-run homer to make the game an 8-2 contest.
   The top of sixth was more of the same, as Nate Jaggers hit a solo homer to give the Blue Raiders a 9-2 lead. Then with two men on, Brett Carroll belted a three-run shot to give MTSU a commanding 12-2 advantage.
   The Blue Raiders never looked back after that.
   ETSU did have its chances at the plate, as it left eight men on base.
   "We didn't get many timely hits today," Skole said. "We weren't very aggressive swinging the bat. Their pitching did a good job of keeping us off balance. We didn't put many good quality swings on pitches today. When we did swing the bat, it didn't seem like there was much authority with it."
   Travis Horschel ran his record to 4-1 for MTSU, as he gave up nine hits and three earned runs in eight innings of work.
   Bauer got the loss for the Bucs, and is now 0-5 on the season.
   Chuck Akers, Nate Jaggers, Marshall Nisbett, Kris Smith and Derek Phillips each had two hits for the Blue Raiders. Brandon Cross, Michael Giroud and Justin Clear finished the afternoon with two hits for ETSU.
   The Buccaneers will be back in action this weekend at home against VMI, a team that has yet to win a Southern Conference game.
   Skole hopes his squad will have forgotten about this game by Friday.
   "Hopefully, we can get this one out of our system," Skole said. "We'll come back and have a good hard practice tomorrow, and then get after them this weekend."