Kenneth Roberts did exactly what his Middle Tennessee State Blue Raider teammates needed him to do Saturday. Roberts toed the rubber for the Blue Raiders and was perfect for three innings in an 8-1 complete game victory.
Roberts had the Trojans (26-19, 13-8 Sun Belt) baffled all night and would have had a no-hitter and a shutout if not for Troy’s one run on two hits in the seventh inning. He no other hits and only allowed three more runners on two walks and one hit batter.
“I give Roberts all the credit because his ball has some sink and run and he tied us up nearly the whole night,” Troy head coach Bobby Pierce said.
One night after putting up 15 runs on 17 hits and allowing only one run against the Blue Raiders Troy allowed eight runs on 17 hits and scored only one on two hits.
“They put up 17 hits on us tonight and boy did they make some plays defensively,” Pierce said. “We couldn’t quite get one in the hole that they didn’t dive and make a great play. This is a crazy game and that is what you get. You get two completely opposite type games from one night to the next.”
Troy’s Jason Walls (3-4) took the mound and got into some trouble early and he struggled with his command in the second and third innings. He allowed five hits and four walks in those two innings that led to a 4-0 lead for the Blue Raiders.
Walls allowed four runs on six hits, walked four and struck out two and was saddled with the loss.
“I didn’t feel like (Walls) was pitching with much intent,” Pierce said. “That bothered me more than the struggles. A guy can fight through some struggles, but not if his intent is not there. I didn’t like the way he approached the mound today and I didn’t like the work he got done. He is going to have to pitch much better than that with much more purpose to keep going out there for us on the weekends.”
Jeff Green relieved Walls and kept Troy in the game, allowing two runs in 4.2 innings of work, but Roberts was too strong for the Trojans Saturday.
Roberts (6-1) had a perfect game through three-plus innings until he hit Charley Williams with a pitch in the fourth inning. The Middle Tennessee defense was diving all over the diamond behind Roberts turning what could have been hits into outs.
After two scoreless innings, the Blue Raiders played small ball with back-to-back-back bunts to open the sixth inning and put runners on first and third. The inning resulted in one run scored and a 5-0 lead.
Ryan Ditthardt broke up Roberts’ no-hit bid in the bottom of the seventh with a ground ball down the right field line for a double and Trevor Tyre doubled to bring in Ditthardt and break the goose egg on the board for Troy.
The Blue Raiders tacked on one run in the eighth inning and two runs in the ninth to grab an 8-1 lead and Troy could not answer.
The rubber game will be played at 1 p.m. today.
Click here for a photo gallery of Saturday’s action