By Rickey Fuquay, Jr.//Contributing Writer
MURFREESBORO – Middle Tennessee rallied in the eighth inning, scoring three runs, to edge rival Western Kentucky, 5-4, Friday night at Reese Smith Jr. Field.
The win gives MTSU (26-20, 16-6 C-USA) its seventh win in its final at-bat. With a loss by Florida Atlantic Friday night, the Blue Raiders are now in sole possession of first place in the league standings.
Austin Bryant led the way on offense with a 3-for-4 performance. Kevin Dupree (2-for-4) and Jake Ingold (2-for-3, HR, RBI) also produced multi-hit efforts.
Brad Jareeau tallied a 1-for-4 game with two RBI. In total, the Blue Raiders knocked 12 hits in the contest, compared to the Hilltoppers eight.
The Hilltoppers (23-21, 9-13 C-USA) scored a run in four of the first five innings in Friday’s game. They led 4-1 heading into the sixth.
Kaleb King drove in a run in the bottom of the sixth inning, an RBI groundout that scored Ingold from third, narrowing the margin to two, 4-2.
As their chances were dwindling, the Blue Raiders came up with a huge rally in the eighth. Ingold started the inning with a home run to left. Then, with two outs and runners on second and third, Jarreau singled to right center to drive in both runners, which providing the game-winning runs. WKU went down in order in the ninth, resulting in a 5-4 comeback victory for MTSU.
Start Johnathan Frebis improved to 5-5 on the year. It marked his 56th career start as a Blue Raider, breaking Chris Norton’s record of 55 set back in 1988. Frebis pitched a career-high eight innings, allowing four runs on eight hits and tying his career-high in strikeouts with eight.
Kooper Kessler picked up his fifth save of the year in relief of Frebis.
Tate Glasscock (2-2) was saddled with the loss for WKU. He gave up all three runs in MTSU’s pivotal eighth inning. John Harman got the nod on the mound for WKU Friday. He pitched eight innings of seven-hit, two-run baseball, striking out five and walking three.
The Blue Raiders will look to continue their winning ways when the two teams meet again Saturday. First pitch is slated for 4 p.m. CST.
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