Rice plays hero in WKU’s Senior Day win over South Alabama

Cole Claybourn

<span style=

“line-height: 18px;”>Senior catcher Matt Rice said he couldn’t have

scripted it any better.

<span style=

“line-height: 18px;”>Rice, who last month became WKU’s all-time

leader in hits and RBIs, came up in the bottom of the 10th inning

with WKU tied 2-2 with South Alabama.

<span style=

“line-height: 18px;”>After Jared Andreoli walked with one out, Ivan

Hartle singled to advance him to third. Rather than walk Rice to

get to center fielder Kes Carter – who homered to tie it at 1-1 in

the fifth inning – and have a chance for a double play, South

Alabama pitched to Rice.

<span style=

“line-height: 18px;”>Rice delivered, fighting off an inside pitch

to right field that rolled past the shallow infielders, bringing

home Andreoli for the 3-2 win on Senior Day.

<span style=

“line-height: 18px;”>”You can’t write that any better than the way

it turned out,” Rice told WKU’s Big Red Radio. “Kes has been

swinging it so well so I wouldn’t really want to get to Kes either.

Coach Finwood has been working on our situational hitting and it

turned out in our favor.”

<span style=

“line-height: 18px;”>Rice’s game-winner and final at-bat at Nick

Denes Field was his 300th career hit, adding to the record he set

against Kentucky on April 19.

<span style=

“line-height: 18px;”>South Alabama took a 2-1 lead in the sixth

inning after a home run from Brad Hook.

<span style=

“line-height: 18px;”>But senior designated hitter Chris Bullard

tied it at 2-2 in the seventh inning with a dribbler down the third

base line that scored a run. Senior third baseman Casey Dykes

struck out looking to end the threat in the seventh inning with the

bases loaded.

<span style=

“line-height: 18px;”>WKU had a chance with a runner on first in the

9th inning with Bullard up again, but he popped out to end the


<span style=

“line-height: 18px;”>Reliever Brian Edelen shut the door in the

10th inning to give WKU, and Rice, a chance to win it in the bottom


<span style=

“line-height: 18px;”>Edelen pitched six innings in relief after

replacing starter Phil Wetherell in the fifth inning. He struck out

eight, a new season high, and scattered four hits and a


<span style=

“line-height: 18px;”>”He was making pitch after pitch,” Rice said.

“That’s what we need this time of the year. We need to have guys

step up. We haven’t been getting the wins on Fridays and he’s

picked us up on Sundays.”

<span style=

“line-height: 18px;”>Edelen has pitched 17 2/3 innings out of the

bullpen in his last three appearances on Sundays and has given up

just four runs combined in those outings.

<span style=

“line-height: 18px;”>”He did what he’s done for three straight

Sundays,” Head Coach Chris Finwood said. “He’s been an absolute gem

for us and allowed our guys to come back and win games on


<span style=

“line-height: 18px;”>The win prevented a sweep and moved WKU into

fifth in the Sun Belt standings.

<span style=

“line-height: 18px;”>They’ll travel to Kentucky on Tuesday before

beginning a season-ending series at Middle Tennessee on


Finwood said next week is a “big week.”

<span style=

“line-height: 18px;”>”It’s a great time of the year and it’s good

to get some momentum heading into next week,” he