Bowling Green, Ky. — A four-run sixth inning and a three-run eighth helped lift Eastern Kentucky to a 9-5 victory over the Western Kentucky University baseball team Wednesday evening at Nick Denes Field.
The loss was the second straight for WKU as it fell to 18-13, while the Colonels improved to 13-13-1.
Matt Hightower threw 5.0 innings in his start, allowing just two runs on five hits, and left in a 2-2 game. However, the Colonels broke out in the top of the sixth off WKU reliever Colby Beach, scoring four runs. Tyler Rehmel got things started with an opposite field leadoff home run to give EKU its first lead of the game at 3-2. After a walk to Jayson Langfels and a single by Matt Davis, Joe Oliver put down a sacrifice bunt to move both runners into scoring position. Tyler Barnett then cleared the bases with a triple, and scored on a Ryan Faidley sacrifice fly to give Eastern a 6-2 lead.
After WKU got a run back in the bottom of the sixth when Jeremy Coleman singled home Hightower, the Colonels pulled away again with three more runs in the eighth. EKU got four straight one-out hits to get those runs as Barnett started with a single and moved into scoring position on a WKU fielding error. Faidley then singled home Barnett and moved into scoring position on a Aaron Barrows base hit. Anthony Ottrando then cleared the bases with a double to the gap, stretching the Colonel lead to 9-3.
Terrence Dayleg got things started quickly for WKU in the bottom of the first as he homered off EKU starter McKenzie Willoughby to give the Toppers an early 1-0 lead. However, Anthony Ottrando tied things up with a sacrifice fly in the third to chase home Oliver with the first Colonel run of the game. Scott Kaskie put the Toppers back in front with a two-out RBI single in the fourth, but again Ottrando pulled EKU back even with an RBI single in the fifth to make it a 2-2 game before the Colonels pulled away with their two big innings.
Trailing by six entering the bottom of the eighth inning, the Toppers loaded the bases with nobody out before a walk to J.B. Paxson forced home Jake Wells with the first run of the inning. However, a sacrifice fly by Kaskie would prove to bring home the only other WKU run of the inning as Patrick Cooper retired the next two batters to keep it a 9-5 game. Jim Clancy then retired the Hilltoppers in the ninth to finish off the EKU victory.
Coleman paced the Toppers with three hits, while Rice and Dayleg finished with two hits each. Wells also had a second-inning single to run his hitting streak to 10 games. Barnett finished with three hits to pace the Colonels, with Ottrando collecting four RBI for EKU.
WKU will return to Sun Belt Conference action this weekend as it hits the road for a three-game series at New Orleans. First pitch of the series opener on Friday is slated for 6:30 p.m. (CDT).