Bowling Green, Ky. — Matt Ridings gave the Western Kentucky University baseball team eight solid innings, and the Hilltoppers blasted four home runs as they evened up their weekend series against Louisiana-Lafayette with an 11-4 win Saturday afternoon at Nick Denes Field.
Ridings stuck out nine batters over his eight inning, and allowed just four hits as he improved to 9-2 on the season. In fact, the only hit Ridings allowed over the first 6.1 innings was a solo home run to Matt Goulas in the third inning. He would retire a stretch of 11 consecutive Cajun batters before surrendering a one-out single to Justin Robichaux in the top of the seventh.
For the second straight day, the Hilltoppers got on the board first when Matt Hightower doubled off of Cajun starter Michael Cook in the bottom of the first, then came home to score on a Chad Cregar two-out single. WKU added its second run an inning later without the benefit of a hit as Jeremy Coleman drew a one-out walk, then moved to third when Matt Payton reached on a UL error. Matt Rice then lifted a sacrifice fly to plate Coleman with the game’s second run.
WKU’s big offense inning of the game came in the eighth when it sent eight men to the plate and scored three runs. Wade Gaynor led off the inning with a walk, then picked up his 10th stolen base of the season to move into scoring position. After going to third on a Jake Wells groundout, Coleman drove him in with a sacrifice fly for the first run of the inning. A two-out walk to Payton set the table for Matt Rice, who hit his third home run of the third home run of the season — and first since March 12 — to at the time give the Hilltoppers a 5-1 lead.
Power came from another unlikely source in the bottom of the sixth as Coleman led off the sixth with his first home run of the season to give WKU a five-run lead. The Toppers would homer in three straight innings as Terrence Dayleg extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a two-run shot in the seventh, and Hightower connected on a three-run home run in the eighth.
UL was able to get two more runs via the long ball in the eight when Scott Hawkins hit an opposite-field homer in the eighth to cut the Topper lead to 8-3. After the Hightower homer gave the Toppers an 11-3 advantage, Josh Logan hit an opposite-field shot in the ninth off reliever Bryce Jenney for the final run of the afternoon.
WKU outhit Louisiana 9-5 in the contest, with Hightower and Rice finishing with three and two hits, respectively. The duo also drove in three runs apiece, while Dayleg and Coleman finished with two RBI. No Cajun had more than one hit, with Hawkins driving in two of the four runs with his homer.
The Hilltoppers and Ragin’ Cajuns will play the rubber match of the weekend series at noon (CDT) on Sunday.