Hank LaRue's three run homer highlighted the first inning, and #7 seed Middle Tennessee put the game away with six runs in the third inning and defeated #3 seed FIU 12-6 in Friday action at the Sun Belt Conference Baseball Tournament in Bowling Green, KY.

LaRue's blast of losing pitcher John Caballero (3-1) followed singles by Ryan Ford and Justin Guidry and staked the Raiders (30-28, 1-1) to an early 3-0 lead.  FIU got a run back on an Aramis Garcia homer in the second, but Middle Tennessee batted around with six hits in the third inning and took advantage of two FIU errors to extend the lead to 9-1.

Johnathan Frebis (6-3) , the Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year, held FIU (31-25, 0-2)  to three runs over the first six innings.  By that time, the Raiders had extended their lead to 12-3.

Ford and Johnny Thomas each had three hits to lead Middle Tennessee's 16-hit attack.  Guidry, LaRue, Jorden Rorex and Robert Lawrence added two hits each.  Nathan Burns had two hits and three RBI to lead the Panthers, who were eliminated from bracket consideration with the loss.

With the win, Middle Tennessee kept its hopes alive for getting to the tournament finals.  Middle Tennessee needs a Troy win over Arkansas State later on Friday, plus a win over Troy tomorrow in order to get a chance to play Louisiana-Monroe for the Sun Belt Championship on Sunday.