Pitching, defense, timely hitting.

The Cajuns had two errors resulting in three unearned runs and stranded nine base runners, offsetting a stellar start by senior Jordan Nicholson as Middle Tennessee defeated Louisiana 4-2 in game one of a three game series at Reese Smith, Jr. Field in Murfreesboro, TN.

Nicholson (3-6) pitched a complete game, scattering seven hits.  He did not walk a batter.   But the Blue Raiders (27-23, 13-12 SBC) kept the Cajuns (21-27, 9-16) scoreless in all but two innings.

Middle Tennessee got two runs in the second inning when, with one out, Robert Lawrence struck out, but reached on a passed ball.  Ryan Stephens then singled and when the ball ricocheted off right fielder Dylan Butler for a two base error, Lawrence scored to give the Raiders a 1-0 lead.  Jorden Rorex then delivered a squeeze bunt to make it 2-0.

The Cajuns got a run in the fifth on a single by Logan Preston, a sacrifice by Tyler Girouard and a Brian Bowman single to make it 2-1.  But the Raiders increased the lead back to two runs in the sixth on a one out single by Justin Guidry, a ground out and a two out single by Trent Miller to go up 3-1.

The Cajuns stranded two runners in the sixth after a two out single by Chase Compton and a walk to Jordan Bourque.  But Preston fouled out to end that threat.  In the seventh, again with two outs, catcher Chris Sinclair singled and Jace Conrad walked.  Daniel Nichols greeted reliever Paul Mittura with a double down the left field line to score Sinclair, but Conrad was out on a close play at the plate and the Cajuns had to settle for a 3-2 deficit.

The Raiders got the run right back in the bottom of the inning when Lawrence doubled, stole third and came home on Sinclair's throwing error.

The Cajuns had one last chance in the eighth when Compton and Bourque drew back to back walks with one out.  But pinch hitter Ryan Leonards hit into a force play and reliever Joey McClung got Tyler Girouard to ground out to end the inning.

McClung retired the Cajuns in order in the ninth for his fifth save.  The Cajuns stranded nine baserunners in the game.

The two teams will play a 2pm doubleheader tomorrow because of pending inclimate weather.  Chris Griffitt (5-3) and Austin Robichaux (1-4) will pitch for the Cajuns.  Lefty Johnathan Frebis and right hander Hunter Adkins will throw for the Blue Raiders.