Murfreesboro, Tenn. — Two solo home runs were all the run support Western Kentucky University freshman starter Matt Ridings needed Friday evening as he threw a four-hit, complete-game shutout Friday night as the Hilltoppers picked up a 2-0 win over Middle Tennessee at Reese Smith Field.
The win secured WKU a spot in next week’s Sun Belt Conference Tournament in Mobile, Ala., as the Toppers improved to 24-28 overall and 14-15 in the Sun Belt Conference. MTSU fell to 29-25 and 16-13 in the league.
“Like we’ve done all year, we bounced back and put together a clutch performance when we needed it most,” said Hilltopper head coach Chris Finwood. “I felt like Matt really mixed his pitches well tonight, and we played some outstanding defense behind him.”
Ridings only found himself in two jams during the ballgame as in the third the Blue Raiders loaded the bases with two outs, but the rookie right-hander was able to strike out Rawley Bishop to end the threat. Then in the eighth, a one-out walk to Matt Ray and a two-out single from Wayne Kendrick put runners at the corners, but against Ridings retired Bishop on a flyout to center to keep MTSU scoreless.
Both Ridings and Blue Raider starter Matt Scott dueled over the first four innings as each allowed the opposition just two hits. However, it was WKU who was able to break through in the fifth when Scotty Colt led off the inning with a solo home run to give the Hilltoppers a 1-0 lead. Matt Hightower followed suit in the sixth as he hit a solo homer to right off Scott to give WKU a two-run advantage.
Those would be the only runs of the contest as Ridings hurled his third complete game of the year, allowing just four Blue Raider hits and striking out seven. Scott also went the distance for MTSU, allowing two runs on seven hits and striking out five.
Colt led the Hilltopper offense with two hits as he extended his hitting streak to a career-long nine games with the fifth-inning home run. Adam Warren accounted collected two of the four hits for the Blue Raiders.
Both WKU and MTSU will close out the 2007 regular season with a 2 p.m. (CDT) contest.