MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Junior pitcher Andrew Edwards worked seven innings, struck out seven batters and allowed just two runs on five hits, lifting WKU to an 8-2 series-clinching win over Middle Tennessee on Friday, locking up the fifth seed in the 2013 Sun Belt Conference Tournament for the Hilltoppers. The win over the Blue Raiders gives WKU a perfect 5-0 mark against Middle Tennessee this season, marking the second time in the last four years that the Hilltoppers have won five-straight in the series.
With the win, WKU (27-27, 15-14) has clinched at least a .500 or better record in conference play for the sixth time in the last seven seasons.
WKU picked up eight runs on 13 hits in Friday’s game, giving the Hilltoppers 11 or more hits in four of the five games against Middle Tennessee this season, while scoring at least eight runs in four out of those five games. The series win gives WKU four consecutive season-ending series wins, as the last series to close out the regular season that WKU didn’t win came back in 2009.
WKU got things rolling in the opening frame on Friday, as four different Hilltoppers picked up hits in the first inning, with slugger Ryan Huck driving in one with an RBI-double, and then came around to score on an RBI-single by Regan Flaherty to give WKU an early 2-0 lead. The RBI for Huck gave him 51 on the year, as he has collected at least one RBI in six out of the last seven games.
Huck would finish his day going 3-for-3, reaching base all five times with a pair of walks to go along with the three hits. In five games against Middle Tennessee this season, the senior slugger is now 11-for-15, hitting five home runs during that span. Huck also extended his career-long 10-game hitting streak, while having at least two hits in seven consecutive games.
The Blue Raiders would come back to tie it up on one swing of the bat from Jake Ellison, who drove in a pair with a second-inning double to make it 2-2. The two-run inning would be all Middle Tennessee would scratch across against Edwards, as the junior retired eight-straight from the third inning through the fifth.
The Hilltopper bats would once again come alive with two outs in an inning, as WKU plated three runs with two outs in the fourth inning with RBI-doubles from true freshmen Trevor Lowe and Thomas Peter. Peter would then score on a Scott Wilcox single to give WKU a 5-2 lead through four innings. Wilcox would finish his night 3-for-5 with a double, giving him five three-hit games this season.
The Hilltoppers would pad their lead in the seventh once again with clutch two-out hitting, as senior Blake Crabtree slashed a two-RBI double down the right field line to make it 7-2 WKU. Crabtree would finish his night 3-for-4, good for his eighth multi-hit game this season.
WKU would add a final insurance run in the ninth as Regan Flaherty would blast his second home run of the season on the first pitch of the ninth inning, giving WKU an 8-2 lead and the eventual win.
True freshman Josh Bartley and sophomore Ian Tompkins would come in to relieve Andrew Edwards, as Bartley would come in to toss the eighth, while Tompkins worked a perfect ninth inning to preserve the win for WKU. Edwards picked up his sixth win of the season, with all six of the wins coming in Sun Belt Conference action.
The Hilltoppers will look to sweep the season series from the Blue Raiders on Saturday, as WKU will go for their sixth consecutive win over Middle Tennessee. If WKU can pick up the win on Saturday, it would mark the first time since the 1985-86 seasons that a WKU team has won six in a row over Middle Tennessee. The Hilltoppers have never won six games over the Blue Raiders in one season. First pitch on Saturday is set for 1:00 PM.