Bowling Green, Ky. — The Western Kentucky University baseball team picked up its first series win of the year as it scored in all but one of its eight at-bats in a 14-9 win over Bowling Green State Sunday afternoon at Nick Denes Field.
The Hilltoppers (2-1) got three home runs in the game — including one from junior Matt Hightower, who also started and threw five innings on the mound to pick up his first win of the season.
“This was a good win coming off a tough extra-inning loss last night,” said Hilltopper head coach Chris Finwood. “I thought our kids fought hard today. We swung the bats really well today, and Matt Hightower gave us a great effort on the mound.”
The Hilltoppers did most of their damage in the fourth and fifth innings — putting up three runs in each frame. All three runs in the fourth came on one swing of the bat as Chad Cregar blasted a three-run home run over the right-field bullpen. At the time, that gave WKU a 6-1 lead. After Bowling Green (1-2) scored a pair in the top of the fifth, the Hilltoppers came right back in the bottom of the inning with three runs.
Matt Payton led off the inning with a triple to center, then scored on a wild pitch by Patrick Martin. After Scott Kaskie singled, Hightower hit his first home run of the season over the wall in right to stretch the advantage to 9-3.
After an RBI single from Jeremy Coleman and a run-scoring double by Payton in the sixth, Wade Gaynor hit a two-run homer in the seventh — his first of the season to bring the Hilltopper run total to 13 on the day. WKU got an insurance run in the eighth when Hightower doubled home Coleman to drive in his fourth run of the game.
That proved crucial as BGSU was able to put up six runs in their final three at bats of the contest. However, Brady Frey was able to bring an end to a two-run Falcon ninth as he struck out Clay Duncan to end the game.
While the long ball was big for the Toppers on Sunday, they were also able to play quite a bit of small ball. WKU went 7-for-8 in stolen bases on the day, getting four of those from Scott Kaskie. Kaskie finished the day 1-for-3 at the plate, but reached in each of his first four plate appearances, and scored three runs.
Coleman led the offense with four hits while Hightower, Cregar, Gaynor and Payton picked up two hits each. Dennis Vaughn paced the Falcons going 5-for-5 at the plate and scoring twice.
Hightower (1-0) allowed six hits and just two earned runs over hit five innings of work. He also picked up two of WKU pitching’s eight strikeouts on the day. BGSU starter Marty Baird (0-1) suffered the loss as he gave up five runs on five hits in 3.1 innings.