Monroe, La. — Louisiana-Monroe scored seven runs in the second, third and fourth inning en route to a 9-5 victory over the Western Kentucky University baseball team Sunday afternoon in the finale of a three-game Sun Belt Conference series at Warhawk Field.
The loss dropped WKU to 6-4 overall and 1-2 in the Sun Belt, while ULM took two of three on the weekend to move to 7-4 and 2-1 in the league.
For the third straight game, the Hilltoppers got on the board first as Matt Rice drove home Wade Gaynor with a one-out double in the second inning to give WKU a 1-0 lead. The advantage was short-lived, however, as a two-run single by Matt Laird put ULM in front by a run in the bottom of the inning.
Hilltopper starter Matt Hightower (2-1) suffered his first loss of the season, and he had his shortest outing of the year allowing five runs on six hits in 2.1 innings. ULM got to Hightower again in the third when a two-run single from A.J. Siggers moved ULM ahead 4-1 and ended the day for the lefty. Colby Beach relieved Hightower and gave up a single to Ryan McMillan to put runners at the corners. Siggers then stole home to bring home the third and final run of the inning.
WKU got a run back in the fourth when J.B. Paxson drove home Gaynor with a single to cut the deficit to three. However, Ben Soignier drove home a run with a single in the bottom of the inning, and Jon Prevost came home to score on a Beach wild pitch to give ULM a 7-2 lead.
The Hilltoppers tried to rally late, scoring in each of their last three at bats. Gaynor singled home Jeremy Coleman with a single in the seventh, and Matt Payton scored on a Coleman infield single in the eighth inning. However, the Warhawks added two more runs in their half of the seventh when McMillan hit a two-run home run.
A Jake Wells double set the table for a WKU run in the ninth as he came around to score on a Matt Bracken single, but Drew Graham was able to close the door and secure the victory for ULM.
Josh Lett (2-1) got the win for the Warhawks, as he went 5.1 innings, allowing two runs on six hits and striking out eight. Offensively, Paxson led the Hilltoppers with three hits, while Coleman, Hightower and Gaynor had two hits each. Dexter Fontenot, Siggers and McMillan all had three hits for ULM.
The Hilltoppers will continue their road trip this week, visiting #2 Ole Miss for a pair of games on Tuesday and Wednesday (March 11-12) in Oxford, Miss. Game time is set for 6:30 p.m. (CDT) both days.