*From Troy Media Relations*
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Middle Tennessee scored five two-out runs over the middle three innings to rally past Troy 8-5 in the final game of pool play for both clubs in the Sun Belt Tournament at Bowling Green Ballpark on Saturday. The Trojans finish tied for first in the pool with Middle Tennessee and possibly Arkansas State, but will not advance to the championship game due to tiebreakers.
The sixth-seeded Trojans defeated both No. 2 Arkansas State and No. 3 FIU to open pool play, but No. 7 Middle Tennessee moved to 2-1 in the pool with the victory over Troy to hold the head-to-head tiebreaker. If Arkansas State defeats FIU Saturday afternoon, the Red Wolves advance to the championship game as the highest seed breaks a three-way tie.
Troy (28-30) scored all five its runs over a three-inning period to take a 5-3 lead after Trent Miller put Middle Tennessee (31-28) on the board with a three-run homer in the first.
Boone Shear got the Trojans going with a one-out single in the second and Chase Mathis followed with a single through the right-side of the infield to put runners on the corners. Tyler Vaughn drove a single into right field to plate Shear and put the Trojans on the board. Brandon Brown followed with a sacrifice fly to pull Troy within one, 3-2.
Tyler Hannah opened the third with a double down the line in left field and scored two batters later on a triple by Logan Pierce to tie the game at 3-all. Danny Collins gave Troy the lead with a single back up the middle to score Pierce.
Vaughn opened the fourth reaching on one of two errors in the game by the Blue Raiders. Following a pair of outs, Hannah doubled in the second straight inning to give the Trojans a 5-3 cushion.
Collins was 3-for-4 with an RBI on the afternoon while Hannah was 2-for-5 with a run scored and an RBI. Collins finished the Sun Belt Tournament 8-for-12 (.667) with three RBIs and three runs scored. Nate Hill threw the final two innings for the Trojans and held the Blue Raiders scoreless. For the tournament, Hill threw 7.2 scoreless innings with nine strikeouts and just two hits allowed.
One of the main reasons the Trojans were able to come back and take a lead was due to the arm of senior A.J. Howard. The southpaw relieved starter Jeremy McGowan in the first inning and retired eight of the first nine batters he faced.
Howard finished with a career-best 3.1 innings of work where he allowed one run on two hits; he tied a career-best with three strikeouts.
Robert Lawrence led off the Middle Tennessee half of the fifth inning with an infield single and eventually stole second and third around a pair of outs. Thomas Austin came out of the bullpen to relieve Howard and Dain McNabb hit a dribbler back up the middle to score Lawrence.
The Blue Raiders were active on the base paths again in the fifth with two stolen bases that led to a pair of runs. Hank LaRue drew a one-out walk and stole second to move himself into scoring position for Lawrence who tied the game with a single to center.
Lawrence then stole second and scored the go-ahead run on a single to left by Johnny Thomas. A double by Justin Guidry gave the Blue Raiders a 7-5 lead in the sixth and LaRue followed with a single to cap the scoring for MTSU.
Paul Mittura (4-1) took over for a struggling Hunter Adkins in the third inning and held the Trojans to one unearned run on three hits over 5.1 innings of work. Joey McClung tossed the final 1.1 innings for his sixth save of the season. Austin (3-5) was charged with the loss after he allowed four runs on six hits in 2.1 innings.