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Zajac signs with Kansas City

Zajac signs with Kansas City

Posted on 15 July 2015 by Allen

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Middle Tennessee redshirt junior pitcher Brandon Zajac has signed a free agent contract with the Kansas City Royals, according to Blue Raider Head Coach Jim McGuire.

Zajac signed the free agent deal earlier this week and has reported to the Arizona Rookie League, where he will spend the summer working out and going through rehabilitation.

“I got a phone call from the scout with the Royals, and I jumped on the opportunity,” Zajac said. “I wanted the opportunity to play professional baseball and when this came along I figured it was time.”

Zajac spent his two seasons at Middle Tennessee on the disabled list. He did not play in 2014 or 2015 due to injury after transferring from Cleveland State Community College, where he was the TCCAA Pitcher of the Year as a sophomore.

“I’m excited for (Zajac) to get the opportunity to sign professionally,” McGuire said. “He has had some misfortune with injuries the last couple years. The Royals like his talent and wanted to get him in their organization. They are going to continue with Brandon’s rehabilitation with the goal of having him ready to pitch by spring training.”
Zajac said he will spend the remainder of the summer, as well as fall and winter, working his way back to being 100 percent healthy.

“Right now I am in Arizona and all I do is rehab and work out,” said the 6-foot-5 left-hander. “I have a little ways to go before I start throwing again. I wasn’t sure this would happen but when I got the phone call I knew what I wanted to do. I wasn’t about to risk another injury and never have another chance to play professional baseball. As much as I love Middle Tennessee, this is something I had to do.”

Zajac was previously drafted twice. He was selected in the 23rd round by the San Francisco Giants following two strong seasons at Cleveland State. He was drafted with the first pick of the 28th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2011, following a stellar prep career at Walker Valley High School.

Zajac is the sixth Blue Raider to be selected into professional baseball this year, joining former teammates Nathan Foriest, Johnathan Frebis, Ronnie Jebavy, Heath Slatton and Ryan Stephens.

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Blue Raiders sign five transfers

Blue Raiders sign five transfers

Posted on 11 June 2015 by Allen

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Middle Tennessee Head Baseball Coach Jim McGuire has announced the addition of five transfers who have signed letters of intent to continue their careers with the Blue Raiders.
All five signees are transfers and are expected to help make an immediate impact in the program following the loss of nine seniors who exhausted their eligibility following a 32-win season in 2015.

Incoming players include Riley Delgado, infielder, Columbia State CC; Will Jackson, RHP, Georgia Perimeter College; Cody Puckett, LHP, Columbia State CC; Vaughn Shapen, catcher/infielder, Bosier Parish CC; and Chaz Vesser, catcher, Chattanooga State CC.

Delgado (5-10, 175) was recently named first-team All-TJCAA and All-State, as well as earning an ABCA/Rawlings Gold Glove Award for his flawless effort in the infield for Columbia State. Delgado made no errors in 132 chances at shortstop and third base during 2015 and earned his gold glove at shortstop. He was named Spalding Baseball NJCAA Defensive Player of the Year Tuesday.

Delgado, the younger brother of former Blue Raider middle infielder Dustin Delgado, will likely play either shortstop or third base for Middle Tennessee. He hit .370 with only 11 strikeouts and a .492 on-base percentage for Columbia State in 2014.

“We know how great of a fielder Riley is,” McGuire said. “He is a very similar player to his brother, Dustin, in that he is a very patient hitter, a top of the lineup type of guy. He is a plus defender and can play second, short or third. He will make a big impact for us next year. The biggest we signed Riley was to give us more experience, more stability and not have to depend on all freshmen or sophomores right away. He will help solidify our infield.”

Puckett is another Columbia State transfer who will fill an immediate need as a left-handed pitcher. Blue Raider southpaws Johnathan Frebis and Nathan Foriest exhausted their eligibility following the 2015 campaign.

Puckett (6-0, 190), who starred as a pitcher/outfielder at nearby DeKalb County High School in Smithville, Tenn., posted a 9-4 record and registered more than 125 strikeouts in two seasons at Columbia State. Puckett was a member of the weekend rotation both seasons at Columbia State and helped lead the team to the JUCO World Series in 2014 when he posted a 5-0 record.

Puckett was the District 8-AA Pitcher of the Year as a junior at DeKalb County, where he led the Tigers to two Class AA state tournament appearances.

“With the left-handed pitchers we are losing we felt we needed to add another lefty to the class,” McGuire said. “Cody can start or relieve for us. He will definitely help us from the left side. He has a strong body, strong arm and could be a draft pick before his career is complete at Middle Tennessee.”

Another pitcher with high expectations is Jackson (6-4, 200). The hard-throwing righty pitched in the Tallahassee Regional in 2014 while at Georgia Southern before transferring to Georgia Perimeter for his sophomore year.
Jackson posted a 5-1 record with a 3.86 ERA in 46-2/3 innings of work. He allowed 38 hits and struck out 35 batters. Jackson made 14 appearances as a freshman at Georgia Southern. He was named to the 2013 Georgia All-State High School team after leading Milton HS to the state tournament and region championship.

“Will knows what Division I baseball is all about and he is a good competitor,” McGuire said. “Losing Frebis as a weekend starter and losing the depth we lost, we felt we needed someone like Will Jackson, who has pitched at the Division I level and has pitched in a regional.”

Shapen (5-11, 180) and Vesser (6-1, 183) will add depth behind the plate and in the lineup.

Shapen is a catcher/infielder who hit .411 in 20 games at Bosier Parish CC. The Shreveport, La., native connected for two home runs and drove in 16 runs, while striking out just four times.

Vesser (6-1, 183) is a catcher who hit .322 at Chattanooga State in 2015. The former Alcoa High School standout displayed a strong arm behind the plate and a strong bat offensively.

“It was important to add depth at catcher,” McGuire said. “Shapen can give us depth at different positions in the infield and he can also catch. Vesser will come in as a catcher. He is more experienced behind the plate and, along with (returner Will) Schnure will give us much-needed experience there.”

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MT’s Jebavy drafted in 5th RD by Giants

MT’s Jebavy drafted in 5th RD by Giants

Posted on 09 June 2015 by Allen

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Ronnie Jebavy’s dream has become a reality.

The Middle Tennessee junior outfielder became the fifth-highest Blue Raider baseball player ever drafted when he was selected in the fifth round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft by the San Francisco Giants Tuesday.
Jebavy is also the first Blue Raider ever selected by the Giants.

“It was breathtaking; my heart was beating out of my chest,” Jebavy said, shortly after being drafted. “It is a lifelong dream being put into play.”

Jebavy said he will fly to San Francisco for a physical either Wednesday or Thursday. He indicated his plans are to sign with the Giants and forego his final year of eligibility at Middle Tennessee.

“I plan to fly out and take my physical and everything is good I expect to sign the papers and start playing short season and see what happens from there,” Jebavy said. “This is such an honor and I’m very humbled. There are no words to explain what Jim McGuire has done for me and helped me to develop as a player. I was able to play for a great team and a great group of guys. I think God and the people who have supported me.”

“This means a whole lot for Ronnie, his family and our program,” Middle Tennessee Head Coach Jim McGuire said. “He is very, very deserving of (a high draft) with the year he had. People were thinking fourth-to-sixth round and he fell right into that spot.

“Ronnie is a tremendous student-athlete and he is the total package. I know it is a forgone conclusion that he will sign. He will be missed.”

McGuire said he believes Jebavy has “big-league tools” and will have a chance to reach the Major Leagues.

“He’s a player I believe can do well in professional baseball, stay in centerfield and reach the (Major Leagues),” McGuire said. “Obviously, the San Francisco Giants do as well based on taking him in the fifth round. There are not too many rounds before five as we have come to realize through the years.”

Jebavy, whose brother Ryan Stephens played at Middle Tennessee and is the Colorado Rockies organization, was the Conference USA Newcomer of the Year after transferring from Columbia State. He was also a first-team All C-USA selection after leading the Blue Raiders in batting average (.359), on-base percentage (.407), hits (88) and stolen bases (24) as a junior. He led C-USA in hits and stolen bases were second in the league in batting average.
“It’s one of the best single seasons of any of the all-time greats we have had,” McGuire said. “Some of it goes unseen because of all of the defensive plays that he made and what he brought to the table defensively, and then the disruption he causes on the bases. Stats don’t measure all of those things.”

Jebavy was not drafted out of high school or junior college; however, he blossomed during his first year as a Blue Raider.

“The year I had may have surprised some people, including me,” Jebavy said. “I’m just thrilled it’s all over. I’ve tried not to think about the last few days but that’s difficult. I’m honored to play for a program like MTSU where so many great players have played. I am proud of what MTSU has provided me.”

Jebavy is the 68th Blue Raider drafted by a MLB team and the 13th player to be drafted in the first 10 rounds. The only Blue Raiders to be drafted higher than Jebavy are Dewon Brazelton (first round, 2001), Bryce Brentz (supplemental first round, 2010), Jayhawk Owens (second round, 1990) and Ken Gerhart (fifth round, 1982).

Jebavy is the fifth Middle Tennessee baseball player to be drafted in McGuire’s three years as head coach and also is the highest drafted player since Brentz was taken with the 36th overall pick of the Boston Red Sox in 2009.

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MTSU falls 7-2 at No. 14 Rice

MTSU falls 7-2 at No. 14 Rice

Posted on 03 April 2015 by Allen

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Middle Tennessee dropped the opening game of a highly-anticipated three-game series 7-2 at No. 14 Rice in front of 2,547 at Reckling Park here Friday.

The Blue Raiders (16-12, 8-2) maintained a one-half game lead over Rice (21-11, 10-3) for first place in the C-USA standings heading into Saturday’s game at 2 p.m.

Starter Jonathan Frebis (4-3) took the loss for Middle Tennessee as he lasted just five innings, allowing 10 hits and seven runs, all earned. Kevin McCanna (4-2) notched the win with 7-2/3 innings of work. It was McCanna’s longest outing of the season. He scattered nine hits and allowed two runs, both earned, struck out six and walked one.

Middle Tennessee had baserunners in all but three innings, including loading the bases with no outs in the third but failed to score.

“We hit the ball and had our chances but we just couldn’t get timely hits,” Middle Tennessee Head Coach Jim McGuire said. “You have to capitalize on your opportunities when you have them against a team like Rice and we didn’t’ do that in this opening game.”

The top of Middle Tennessee’s order was productive with Dustin Delgado, Brad Jarreau and Ronnie Jebavy combining to go 6-for-13 with one home run, two RBI and two runs scored to lead the 10-hit attack.

Jarreau connected for his first career home run, a monstrous jolt over the fence in left center some 375 feet away and finished 2-for-4 with one RBI. Jebavy was 2-for-4 with one RBI and extended his hitting streak to 10 games. He has 17 multi-hit games this season. Delgado continued to battle and went 2-for-5 with one run scored.

Austin Bryant delivered his first triple of the season and Jared Allen, Michael Adkins and Jake Ingold each had one hit.

The Blue Raiders jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Delgado started the game with a double and scored when Jebavy drilled a shot that was misplayed by third baseman Grayson Lewis.

Rice struck in the bottom of the third when catcher Hunter Kopycinski connected for a bases-clearing triple with two outs to stake the Owls to a 3-1 lead they would not relinquish.

Middle Tennessee closed to within 3-2 in the top of the fifth when right fielder Jarreau connected for his first career home run, a solo blast into left center field.

Just as the Blue Raiders pulled to within one, Rice quickly answered with four in the bottom of the inning to stretch its lead to 7-2. Two big Rice innings proved to be the difference in the game.

Austin Bryant provided a one-out triple in the top of the sixth but Middle Tennessee was unable to score him.

Relief pitcher Heath Slatton supplied three innings of shutout relief, striking out three but the Blue Raiders were unable to rally.

Game 2 takes place Saturday at 2 p.m. as junior right-hander Nathan Hoffmann takes the mound looking to even the series.

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MTSU Clinches Third Straight Weekend Series

MTSU Clinches Third Straight Weekend Series

Posted on 28 March 2015 by Allen

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Timely hitting and another gutsy pitching performance propelled Middle Tennessee (15-10, 7-1 C-USA) to an 8-2 win over Old Dominion (13-10, 3-5 C-USA) Saturday afternoon. With the victory, the Blue Raiders clinched their third consecutive league series win and remain on top of the C-USA standings. MT goes for the sweep tomorrow at Reese Smith Jr. Field with first pitch set for 1 p.m. CT.

Junior Ronnie Jebavy (3-for-4) tied his career high with three hits and extended his hitting streak to seven games. Jebavy, the team’s leader in multiple offensive categories, has hit safely in 22 of 25 games and leads MT with 15 multi-hit efforts. The speedy center fielder also swiped his league-leading 14th base.

Seniors Michael Adkins (1-for-3) and Jake Ingold (2-for-4) each produced three RBIs, while sophomore Kevin Dupree (2-for-4) and senior Dustin Delgado (2-for-5) also collected two hits apiece.

Junior Nate Hoffmann picked up his second win on the mound. The right hander gave MT its second straight gutsy performance from a starter in as many days, working out of tough situations to strand nine ODU runners. Hoffmann totaled a career-high six innings and allowed one run on five hits.

ODU began the game with a run on two hits off Hoffmann, but the Blue Raiders responded with three in the bottom of the first. Adkins was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and Ingold followed right up with a one-out single to score two runs.

With the Blue Raiders leading 4-1 in the sixth, Dupree (2-for-4) delivered a clutch two-out, two-RBI single off the first pitch thrown from ODU reliever Adam Bainbridge to give MT a comfortable 6-1 lead.

Adkins also came up big with a two-out double in the seventh to push Delgado and Allen across, putting MT up 8-1.

ODU added a run in the eighth but that was all it could manage.

Monarchs’ starter Nick Hartman took the loss after giving up six earned runs over 5.2 innings.

Freshman RHP Blake Stansberry came back to form with 2.2 innings of one-hit relief.

The Blue Raiders outhit the Monarchs 11-6 as MT improved to 14-4 when registering more than six hits in a game this season. MT left just five runners on base.

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MTSU Drops Midweek Game to Lipscomb

MTSU Drops Midweek Game to Lipscomb

Posted on 26 March 2015 by Allen

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Middle Tennessee’s midweek struggles continued Wednesday night against Lipscomb. The Blue Raiders (13-10, 5-1 C-USA) managed just six hits and fell by a score of 8-1, plating the lone run in the ninth to prevent the shutout.

Will Schnure led off the bottom of the ninth with his first career triple and scored on Ronnie Jebavy’s infield single to the right side.

“We’re a momentum team and it’s important for us to get a lead and we weren’t able to do that,” head coach Jim McGuire said. “We got two hits in the first inning and had an opportunity to score right away.”

Returning to his hometown, Lipscomb starter Brady Puckett was highly effective in just his second career start. Puckett faced 31 batters and struck out four in a complete-game effort.

Jebavy (2-for-4) was the only Blue Raider with two hits and he leads the team with 14 multi-hit contests. The junior has hit safely in 20 of 23 games this season.

Brad Jarreau kept his average (.365) up with a single, while Jared Allen and Jake Ingold each recorded a base knock.

Junior RHP Heath Slatton was tagged with the loss after allowing six runs (three earned) to cross on five hits and a walk. Slatton lasted 3.2 innings and struck out three batters.

Lipscomb got on the board first with three unearned runs in the second. That proved to be enough, although the Bisons added three more in the fourth and one run in each of the sixth and seventh frames.

“We preached and preached to be ready,” McGuire said. “You can’t have a hangover from a game the night before, but it sure looked we did. We just could never get anything going.”

Will Small and Blake Stansberry both pitched for the second straight night, allowing two runs combined over the final 5.1 innings with no walks.

Freshman Phillip Kunsa (0-for-1) made his first career appearance at the plate when he came on as pinch hitter in the ninth.

Lipscomb out-hit the Raiders 13-6 and MT committed the game’s only defensive error.

The Blue Raiders return to conference play this weekend looking to stay on top of the league standings. Old Dominion comes to Reese Smith Jr. Field for a three-game series starting Friday night at 6 p.m.

Saturday afternoon’s contest will on American Sports Network at 3:35 p.m. CT, and is set to become the first nationally-televised regular season game in MT program history.

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MTSU Takes Series Over No. 19 FAU

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MTSU Takes Series Over No. 19 FAU

Posted on 22 March 2015 by Allen

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With first place in Conference USA on the line, Middle Tennessee (13-8, 5-1 C-USA) went to extra innings for the second day in a row and overcame a four-run deficit to defeat No. 19 Florida Atlantic, 7-6.

Sunday’s win marks the first road series win over a ranked team for the Blue Raiders as they stay unbeaten in extra-inning contests this season.

Fifth-year senior Nathan Foriest’s gritty performance on the mound kept MT alive, as the Raiders plated four runs in the ninth to force the game into extras.

In his second win, Foriest tied his career-longest outing with five innings of shutout relief and recorded five strikeouts. The southpaw began the eighth and didn’t allow a runner to advance past second base the rest of the way.

“We fell behind today and it looked like we were going to be in trouble,” head coach Jim McGuire said. “We were just trying to piece it all together and I can’t say enough about Nathan Foriest. He was tremendous today.”

Ronnie Jebavy reached base in all six plate appearances and collected a career-high three hits, including a ninth-inning RBI triple to left-center to get MT within a run. Jebavy is now hitting .545 (12-for-22) in league play and also stole his league leading 13th base.

Michael Adkins knocked in the go-ahead run on a two-out single in the 12th and also posted three hits along with Brad Jarreau, who doubled and scored a team-high three runs on the day.

Pinch-hitter Kaleb King singled to lead off the ninth and Jarreau followed with a double to right center. Austin Bryant knocked in a run on a ground out to short before Jebavy’s triple made it 6-5. Jared Allen tied it with a sacrifice fly when he lifted a fly ball just deep enough to score Jebavy.

The Blue Raiders scored first for the fourth straight game, as both teams plated a run in the first inning.

MT took its second lead of the game in the fourth when Dustin Delgado knocked in Adkins on a one-out single, making it 2-1 Raiders. Adkins had reached scoring position on a double to the right-center gap.

The lead didn’t last long though, as the first six FAU batters reached safely in the next half, leading to four runs. The Owls pushed one more across in the fifth to go up 6-2.

Reliever Kooper Kessler, the fourth of five pitchers used by McGuire, kept the FAU bats in check over 2.1 innings until Foriest took over.

The Blue Raiders out-hit the Owls 14-12, while the teams combined for six errors in the field. MT stranded nine runners and FAU left 10 on base.

Middle Tennessee begins a five-game homestand Tuesday night against No. 4 Vanderbilt. The Blue Raiders will unveil two statues during a pre-game ceremony in front of Reese Smith Jr. Field, with first pitch against the ‘Dores scheduled for 6 p.m.

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MTSU Suffers First C-USA Loss

MTSU Suffers First C-USA Loss

Posted on 22 March 2015 by Allen

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The Middle Tennessee baseball team suffered its first Conference USA loss by a score of 4-2 at No. 19 Florida Atlantic Friday night. The Blue Raiders fall to 11-8 overall and 3-1 in league play.

After a fast start and jumping up 2-0 on the Owls, MT chased FAU starter Kyle Miller out of the game in the fifth after tallying seven hits and four doubles. However, only two balls were put in play against FAU relievers in the final 4.2 innings.

The Blue Raiders couldn’t solve FAU reliever Reily Monkman who struck out a career-high nine in three-and-two-thirds to earn the win.

In total, the Raiders struck out 18 times which tied the MT school record and set a new FAU program record for most strikeouts in a game. MT also failed to draw a walk or hit-by-pitch.

The Blue Raiders scored first after Kevin Dupree led off with a double in the third. Three of Dupree’s five doubles this season have led off an inning. He came around on a Brad Jarreau groundout two batters later.

MT took a 2-0 lead the following inning when Jake Ingold scored from second on an Austin Bryant single past the FAU third baseman.

Ingold (2-for-4) and Ronnie Jebavy (2-for-4) each registered a multi-hit performance. Jebavy also swiped his league-leading 12th base.

Starter Johnathan Frebis cruised through the first four frames allowing just one hit, until a pair of unusual plays in the fifth changed the game.

The first FAU batter of the inning popped up at the edge of the grass behind Delgado at second base, but a charging Jarreau called off Delgado and the ball fell at Jarreau’s feet. Two batters later, a sharp single to left field got past Jared Allen to allow the first FAU run to cross.

With two outs in the inning and runner at second, Frebis induced a chopped-ground ball that Dupree gloved up the first-base line. However, a diving Frebis couldn’t beat the runner at first as the runner from second came all the way around to score on the play.

The Owls went ahead 4-2 in the sixth after adding two runs on a pair of back-to-back singles. Frebis was dealt the loss with a final line of six innings, nine hits, four runs, three walks and four strikeouts.

FAU closer Bo Logan picked up his fourth save. MT left five runners on and FAU stranded six.

Game two gets started at 3 p.m. tomorrow. MT will send out junior Nate Hoffmann to try and even the series.

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MTSU Baseball Statues to be Unveiled Next Tuesday

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MTSU Baseball Statues to be Unveiled Next Tuesday

Posted on 17 March 2015 by Allen

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Middle Tennessee will be unveiling full-sized statues of two pioneers for Blue Raider baseball at Reese Smith Jr. Field Tuesday, March 24 at 5:15 p.m.

Iconic former coach and athletic director John Stanford and longtime Blue Raider supporter Reese Smith will be honored at the front entrance of the stadium as statues of each are unveiled.

The ceremony will be in advance of the Blue Raiders 6 p.m. game vs. defending national champion Vanderbilt and is open to the public with free admission.

Middle Tennessee President Sidney McPhee will be on hand to help dedicate the statues. Many former Blue Raider players will also be in attendance, along with family members of Smith and Stanford.

“These will be the first two statues on our campus which is very significant,” said Director of Athletics Chris Massaro. “Coach Stanford and Reese Smith have really helped build our program together and allowed us to be able to compete nationally. The look in front of our stadium with the two statues is a great centerpiece to our campus and really showcases our history.”

“On behalf of the University and our athletic department, I want to thank Steve and Denise and the other donors who contributed to this wonderful project.”

Stanford and Smith have greatly impacted Blue Raider baseball, and Head Coach Jim McGuire believes it is only fitting for them to be honored in such a way.

“These two men are the foundation of Blue Raider baseball and this is a great way to honor them for their dedication and pride,” McGuire said. “It should be a great evening when we unveil the statues.”

Stanford came to Middle Tennessee in the 1950s after serving with the Air Force and made his mark on Blue Raider baseball by becoming an All-OVC selection as a player.

He would later leave an even greater mark as the program’s coach and eventually as the university’s director of athletics.

After graduation, he played two seasons for the Washington Senators before serving as baseball coach for Shelbyville Central and Motlow Community College in Middle Tennessee. In 1974, he returned to his alma mater to develop one of the most respected programs in college baseball. As the Blue Raiders coach for 11 seasons, Stanford guided Middle Tennessee to a 402-222 record. His teams won six OVC regular-season championships, four OVC Tournament championships and made four NCAA appearances. Stanford was crowned OVC Coach of the Year five times.

As athletic director, he worked with donors to improve baseball facilities and scholarships, upgraded the golf program and advocated the formation of the women’s softball program and field.

Smith, a Nashville native, and his two sons who had played baseball for the Blue Raiders, threw their efforts into lighting the field and building the stadium that now exists. Home to what is considered one of the finest collegiate baseball fields in the nation, Reese Smith Jr. Field was named in October of 1982 and officially dedicated on April 12, 1983. The dedication was a well-earned salute to the efforts of the late Reese Smith and family.

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Stephens signes with Rockies

Stephens signes with Rockies

Posted on 04 March 2015 by Allen

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Former Middle Tennessee baseball player Ryan Stephens has signed a minor league free agent contract with the Colorado Rockies and has reported early to spring training in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Stephens, a four-year starter for the Blue Raiders, had an individual workout with the Rockies organization last week. Shortly after the workout, Stephens was signed.

“It shows hard work pays off,” said Stephens, who was undrafted following his senior year at Middle Tennessee in 2014. “It is a dream come true. I am just blessed and humbled by the fact that I am getting to do it.”

Middle Tennessee Head Coach Jim McGuire said Stephens’ resiliency fueled the opportunity to play professional baseball.

“I’m very happy and very proud for Ryan Stephens,” McGuire said. “He just never gave up on his dream to have an opportunity to play professional baseball. The Major League Draft didn’t work out and he wasn’t signed as a free agent last year but he was very resilient. He never gave up and he worked out all winter. As things started to progress Ryan got his opportunity to show what he could do and it worked out.”

Position players report to spring training March 13 but Stephens was asked to report early in order to get additional reps.

“I haven’t had those reps like other guys so I want to get as many as I can,” said Stephens, who played high school baseball at Riverdale in Murfreesboro. “I feel like I have put in the work, and I have had the patience. It didn’t work out for me in the draft or free agency (after the 2014 season), but I plugged away and stayed in shape and something good has come out of it.”

Stephens worked with Middle Tennessee’s baseball program as he completed his degree in the fall. He spent the winter working out with former Blue Raiders in professional baseball, as well as Houston Astros outfielder Alex Presley.

Colorado Rockies catcher Michael McKenry, a former Blue Raider standout, put in a word for Stephens and helped get the workout scheduled.

“I was hoping for something when I got the workout,” said Stephens, who also recently worked out with the Texas Rangers organization. “(McKenry) put in a good work for me, and I am so appreciative of him for the opportunity.”

McKenry put in a word, but Stephens had to do the work.

Once given an opportunity the former Middle Tennessee standout impressed.

Stephens, who holds the Middle Tennessee record for consecutive games started with 184, is also eighth all-time in games played with 217 and sixth all-time with nine triples. He was a career .277 hitter and capped his four-year with 98 RBI, 14 home runs, nine triples, 29 doubles and he stole 26 bases while getting thrown out just six times. Stephens had just 121 strikeouts in 760 plate appearances.

“Ryan was a great player for us,” McGuire said. “He was a four-year starter and that doesn’t happen a lot. He is dedicated. The door is open and he has to make the most of it. Ryan will have an opportunity to stick with it. His work ethic will allow for that.”

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Blue Raiders Drop Finale at UNO

Blue Raiders Drop Finale at UNO

Posted on 01 March 2015 by Allen

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Middle Tennessee had a tough first inning and was unable to recover in an 8-2 loss to New Orleans in the final game of a three-game series at Maestri Field Sunday.

The Blue Raiders (7-2) still won the series, 2-1, and have won three straight series to start the season. They play at Tennessee Tuesday.

Middle Tennessee pounded out 13 hits in the setback and had three players with multi-hit games. Michael Adkins was 3-for-5 with one RBI, and Brad Jarreau and Ronnie Jebavy each were 2-for-4.

Every Blue Raider in the starting lineup had at least one hit. Shortstop Dustin Delgado got a base knock in his final at-bat to extend his hit streak to eight games and his reached-base streak to 24 games.

A tough start spelled doom for Middle Tennessee. Starter Heath Slatton was roughed up for five runs, all earned, in 1-1/3 innings. After the Blue Raiders went on top 1-0 in the top of the first, Slatton was hit for five in the bottom of the frame.

Middle Tennessee’s bullpen held the Privateers(5-7) in check through the middle innings to give the Blue Raiders a chance to rally. Blake Stansberry and Garrett Ring combined for 4-2/3 innings of shutout baseball but the Blue Raiders couldn’t chip into the lead.

New Orleans finally broke the game open with three in the bottom of the seventh to push its lead to 8-1. Middle Tennessee tacked on a run in the ninth to account for the final score.

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Blue Raiders Win Fourth Straight

Blue Raiders Win Fourth Straight

Posted on 28 February 2015 by Allen

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Senior Jake Ingold’s RBI single in the 12th inning broke a 1-1 tie and lifted Middle Tennessee past New Orleans in a pitcher’s duel Friday night. The Blue Raiders have now won four straight and improve to 6-1 overall on the season.

Starter Johnathan Frebis tossed a season-high 7.1 innings and struck out seven, tying his single-game record for the fifth time of his career. The Blue Raider ace allowed only two hits and one unearned run in the no-decision.

“This was by far his best start in three outings this year,” head coach Jim McGuire said. “And that’s what we need him to do, he’s got to be that kind of guy on Friday nights for us. He was very effective tonight.”

In a game that lasted nearly four hours, the Blue Raiders twice left the bases loaded and stranded a total of 14 runners as the Privateers turned a pair of clutch double plays in the ninth and 10th frames.

“It was a team win, we really had to grind it out,” McGuire said. “We had all kinds of opportunities where we could’ve scored, but we just couldn’t breakthrough.”

Jared Allen reached base on a dropped third strike to lead off the 12th and cleanup hitter Michael Adkins put down a sacrifice bunt to get Allen to second base. Allen immediately stole third and Ingold shot a 3-2 pitch back up the middle to plate the go-ahead run.

The Blue Raiders went down 1-0 in the second after UNO scored on an error, but a Dustin Delgado sacrifice fly tied it in the fifth.

Delgado (2-for-3; 2 BB, RBI) extended his reached-base streak to 22 games, pacing MT with two hits along with Ingold (2-for-5; 2B RBI) and leading-hitter Brad Jarreau (2-for-3; 2 BB). Kaleb King collected his second double of the season as the Blue Raiders combined for nine hits.

The Middle Tennessee bullpen was spectacular in the late innings, most notably Nathan Foriest (1.2 IP) who twice stranded the winning run and recorded four punchouts. Blake Stansberry kept the Privateers off the board in the eighth, while Sam Alton earned his first Blue Raider win in two innings of perfect relief.

New Orleans sent out five pitchers as Kevin Kelleher (0-2) was charged with the loss. Freshman Shawn Semple went toe-to-toe with Frebis, turning in a quality six innings with one run on five hits and five strikeouts. Preston Marsh led the Privateers at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a run scored.

MT overcame an uncharacteristic three errors in the early going and limited the home team to four hits on the night.

Austin Bryant had his 11-game hit streak snapped, while Middle Tennessee improves to 3-3 in extra-inning contests under McGuire. At six wins in seven games, the Blue Raiders are off to their best start in five years.

The series continues on Saturday with game two’s first pitch scheduled for noon. McGuire will skip Kooper Kessler in the rotation and send out Nate Hoffman for the junior transfer’s first start. The game can be heard on WMOT-2 (92.5 FM) and on GoBlueRaiders.com.

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MTSU falls to Jacksonville, 11-2

MTSU falls to Jacksonville, 11-2

Posted on 15 February 2015 by Allen

MTSU Baseball

Middle Tennessee’s bats fell silent as the visiting Blue Raiders suffered a 11-2 setback in the series finale against Jacksonville in Sunday’s matinee contest at John Sessions Stadium.

“I’m happy with what we did over the past two days, but we wasted an opportunity to come out today and play well,” head coach Jim McGuire said. “We talked about it yesterday, it’s hard to beat somebody three times especially on the road. We’re happy we won two-out-of-three, but not satisfied knowing we could’ve done a lot more.”

Michael Adkins (2-for-4) drove in two runs on a two-out single in the third inning, running his series total to 10 which is the most RBIs in a series since Bryce Brentz plated nine runs versus New Orleans on May 14-16, 2010.

The Dolphins got to Blue Raider starter Heath Slatton (0-1) in the second frame with seven runs on seven hits in the junior’s first weekend start. With two outs in the inning, JU connected on a bases-clearing double that got past the diving Jared Allen in left field and followed up with another two-bagger to deflate the Blue Raiders.

Middle Tennessee (2-1) got two runs back in the next half inning with Adkins’ two-out knock, but the home team also scored two in the third to keep the seven-run advantage.

For the second straight game, Dustin Delgado led off the contest with a double as the senior shortstop recorded two hits on the day. Austin Bryant doubled in the third inning to extend his hit streak to eight games as the Blue Raiders were limited to only five hits after combining for 23 in the first two games. Brad Jarreau also singled and scored a run on the day.

Jacksonville (1-2) starter Michael Baumann (5.0 IP, 2 R, 6 K, 4 H, 3 BB) had a strong showing and earned the win during his first collegiate appearance.

Four Blue Raiders made their debuts. Kevin Sullivan started at third, while Sam Alton, Blake Stansberry and Tyler Troutt saw action out of the bullpen.

Despite Sunday’s loss, Middle Tennessee wins the three-game set 2-1 and will travel back home for its home opener against another A-Sun team in Lipscomb on Tuesday, Feb. 17. First pitch is slated for 3 p.m. but stay tuned to GoBlueRaiders.com and @MT_Baseball on Twitter for updates concerning this week’s weather.

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MTSU announces 2015 Baseball Schedule

MTSU announces 2015 Baseball Schedule

Posted on 14 November 2014 by Allen

mtsu bb

Middle Tennessee head baseball coach Jim McGuire announced the 2015 schedule Thursday. This year’s slate features 27 home games at Reese Smith Field and eight games against 2014 NCAA Tournament teams.

The season begins on Friday, Feb. 13, when the Blue Raiders kick off a weekend series at Jacksonville. Middle Tennessee will then return home to host four non-conference games with the Reese Smith Field opener scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 17, against Lipscomb.

MT will hit the road the following week, playing a weekday matchup at Tennessee Tech (Feb. 24), before heading to the Big Easy for a weekend series at New Orleans (Feb. 27-March 1). The Raiders will continue on the road with a weekday game at Tennessee March 3, in Knoxville, with the Volunteers returning the favor on April 14 in Murfreesboro.

The Blue Raiders will entertain Big-Ten member Iowa at Reese Smith Field for a weekend series (March 6-8), and will renew a home-and-home against defending national champion Vanderbilt (March 24 home/April 21 away).

Middle Tennessee’s 30-game Conference USA slate begins Friday, Mar. 13, when it plays host to UAB. MT also hosts 2014 NCAA Regional participant Old Dominion (March 27-29), Louisiana Tech (April. 10-April 12), Western Kentucky (May 1-3) and Southern Miss (May 14-16).

C-USA three-game series opponents on the road are Florida Atlantic (Mar. 20-22), defending champion Rice (April 3-5), Charlotte (April 17-19), Marshall (April 24-26) and UTSA (May 8-10).

Additional in-state contests for the Blue Raiders include Austin Peay, Belmont, and Memphis.
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Scores

Temple 37 Vanderbilt 7 F
Alabama 33 West Virginia 23 F
Arkansas 21 Auburn 45 F
LSU 28 Wisconsin 24

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