MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Middle Tennessee answered a three-run home run by Caleb Adams in the top half of the sixth inning with back-to-back home runs in the bottom half of the inning to reclaim the lead on the way to completing a series sweep of the Ragin' Cajuns baseball team with a 9-3 victory here Sunday afternoon at Reese Smith, Jr. Field.
Adams' home run, his team-leading sixth of the season, had pulled the Cajuns (17-6, 3-3 Sun Belt) out of a 2-0 deficit.
Trent Miller and Michael Adkins connected on back-to-back home runs, ending a string of nine straight batters retired by Cody Boutte, to catapult the Blue Raiders (15-10, 3-3 Sun Belt) into a 4-3 advantage.
As they did Saturday, Middle Tennessee picked up insurance runs in the seventh inning using a two-run double from Adkins to increase the lead to 6-3.
Back-to-back hits to begin the eighth inning, an infield single by Dex Kjerstad and double by Ryan Leonards, gave the Cajuns a chance at a comeback. However, Zac Curtis and reliever Paul Mittura combined to retire the next three Cajuns hitters and preserve the three-run edge.
The Blue Raiders tacked on a run on a RBI double by Dain McNabb before a rain delay in the eighth inning, then added two more after play resumed on a Miller single through the left side to finish the scoring.
The Ragin' Cajuns continue their current seven-game road trip on Tuesday with a midweek contest at Southeastern Louisiana on Tuesday, March 26. The road trip wraps up Easter Weekend (March 29-31) in Bowling Green, Ky., for a three-game series at WKU.
Adams was responsible for all three Cajuns runs, all coming in on his three-run home run in the sixth inning that gave Louisiana its lone lead of the afternoon.
Adkins led the charge for the Blue Raiders scoring two runs and posting a team-high three RBI. Miller joined him in posting a team-high three RBI in his 2-for-5 performance.
Curtis pitched a season-high 7 2/3 innings and scattered five hits while holding the Cajuns to three runs all of which came on Adams' home run.
Boutte lost for the first time in six starts, yielding four runs (three earned) in 5 2/3 innings of work.
Both Curtis and Boutte stranded a runner in the first inning marking the first time in the series neither team scored in their first at bat.
Adkins reached on a Blake Trahan fielding error to start the MT half of the second inning. He scored on a Robert Lawrence double to left field and the Blue Raiders collected a second run when Jake Ellison tripled into center field.
Back-to-back hit by pitch on Curtis offerings gave UL a pair of runners with no outs to start the fourth inning. Curtis struck out Tyler Girouard, then used an Adams fly out and Chase Compton groundout to keep the Cajuns scoreless.
Boutte began to match the Blue Raiders' lefty, retiring the hosts in order in the fourth and fifth inning.
Another Curtis hit by pitch, this time with two outs, extended the top of the sixth for the Cajuns. Girouard followed with a single over the glove of MT second baseman Johnny Thomas, then Adams lifted a home run over the left field wall to provide the Cajuns a 3-2 lead.
The Cajuns lead was brief as the back-to-back solo home runs in the Blue Raiders' half of the sixth returned the lead to the hosts and ended a string on nine consecutive batters retried by Boutte.
BASES NOTED: The two teams waited through a one hour, 20 minute weather delay which began at 2:18 p.m., in the bottom of the eighth inning, before completing the contest…The Cajuns and Blue Raiders met in a Sun Belt Conference regular season game for the final time (MT departs for Conference USA in 2014)…Middle Tennessee swept a SBC series from Louisiana for the first time in 13 weekend sets since the Blue Raiders joined the league in 2001…Tyler Girouard extended his hitting streak to eight games…All six of Caleb Adams' home runs have come in March…Relievers Nick Zaunbrecher, Ben Carter and Matt Plitt appeared in Sun Belt play for the first time in their career…Dex Kjerstad collected his seventh multi-hit game, the second-highest total on the Cajuns squad…Kjerstad posted a multi-hit game all four games this week and hit 10-for-20 (.500)…Cody Boutte tallied five strikeouts for the fourth time in six starts…Boutte leads the Cajuns pitching staff with 26 strikeouts…The Blue Raiders' eight home runs in the series equaled the amount Cajuns pitching had surrendered through the season's first 20 games.