WKU didn’t let the rain delay slow down its momentum in the quest to end the season above .500.
The Toppers evened their record at 27-27 (15-14 Sun Belt Conference) Friday night in an 8-2 win over Middle Tennessee State.
WKU locked up the No. 5 seed in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament next week at Louisiana-Lafayette.
Solid pitching from junior Andrew Edwards played a key role in the Toppers fifth consecutive win over the Blue Raiders.
Edwards struck out seven batters and allowed only two runs on five hits through seven innings pitched.
Coach Matt Myers said it was important for Edwards to not reach 100 pitches until the sixth inning. The junior ended his night in the seventh inning with his pitch count at 101.
“I thought his fastball was electric, but the biggest thing for him that’s been different in the previous outings is he got ahead, but he had four pitches in the zone and he was using them,” Myers said. “When he gets in the grove, he’s in the zone.”
The Topper bats were hot early as Ryan Huck hit an RBI double to bring Scott Wilcox home for the first run of the game. Regan Flaherty then hit a grounder right through second base while Huck found home plate to give WKU the early 2-0 lead.
MTSU’s Jake Ellison put the Blue Raiders on the board with a two-RBI double to close the second inning and tie the game.
Trevor Lowe and Peter Thomas hit back-to-back RBI doubles and an RBI single from Wilcox gave the Hilltoppers three runs off of five hits in the fourth inning.
With two runners on base, Blake Crabtree ripped an RBI double down the right field line in the top of the seventh to put the game all but out of reach with MTSU’s weak bats on the night.
Nathan Foriest entered the game to begin the ninth inning as MTSU’s fourth pitcher. Regan Flaherty blasted the redshirt sophomore’s first pitch over the right center field wall for his second home run of the year to seal the Hilltopper’s third straight victory.
MTSU will need to defeat WKU Saturday to earn a place in the conference tournament. Myers said the tournament isn’t the main focus in the final series of the regular season, but taking care of the Blue Raiders remains their number one concern.
“Our goal is to beat Middle, and that is out of respect to the game,” Myers said. “We’ve still had to fight to keep the fifth seed. We came here to win this series because we haven’t been playing really good and we need momentum.”
WKU will look for the series sweep to end the regular season tomorrow at Reese Smith Jr. Field in Murfreesboro at 1:00 p.m.