Bowling Green, Ky. — The Western Kentucky University baseball team scored multiple runs in three innings, and pounded out a season-high 21 hits to complete a three-game weekend sweep over Arkansas State with a 13-5 win Sunday afternoon in the series finale at Nick Denes Field.
The win moved the Hilltoppers to 23-16 overall and 10-8 in the Sun Belt Conference. ASU dropped to 16-24 and 5-13 in the league.
Just after ASU tied the game at 3-3 in the sixth inning, WKU came right back with back-to-back five-run innings in the sixth and seventh innings. The Toppers sent nine men to the plate and scored five times to pull away in the sixth. After a leadoff double by J.B. Paxson, a one-out single by Jake Wells drove him in to again move WKU in front. That was the first of four consecutive hits for the Hilltoppers, with Scott Kaskie and Matt Hightower each having singles to drive in runs. After a fielder’s choice groundout by Terrence Dayleg plated Kaskie, Chad Cregar tripled to bring home Dayleg and give WKU an 8-3 lead.
After a solo home run by Ryan Hudgins and an RBI single by Lawson Hipps in the top of the seventh pulled ASU back within two, the Toppers came back with another five-run inning to put the game away. All of WKU’s damage came with two outs as Wells got things started with a two-out double, and scored on a Matt Payton single. After stealing second and moving to third on a wild pitch, Payton scored on a Kaskie single to make it a 10-5 game. Hightower then doubled home Kaskie, and Dayleg hit a two-run home run to right to give the Toppers an eight-run lead and finish off the scoring.
ASU took its first lead of the weekend right away in the first inning as it loaded the bases with nobody out against Hilltopper starter Colby Beach. After a strikeout for the first out of the game, a fielder’s choice by Hipps brought home Derrick Coleman with the game’s first run. Beach was then able to get Murray Watts to ground out to limit the damage.
WKU came back with three runs in the second inning as it too loaded the bases with nobody out. Indian starter Jett Jones then got Kaskie to ground into a double play, but Jeremy Coleman scored on the play to get the Hilltoppers on the board. Hightower followed with a fly ball to center that hit off the wall and bounced back toward the infield, allowing him to come all the way around for a two-run inside-the-park home run that gave WKU a 3-1 lead.
Arkansas State got a run in the fifth on a Brandon Eller single, then tied things up at 3-3 on a Cade Baxter sacrifice fly in the sixth before the Toppers exploded for 10 runs in two innings.
Offensively, Hightower equalled a career high with four hits, and also drove in four. Kaskie, Cregar, Wells and Payton each had three hits, with Dayleg driving in three. Coleman finished with three of Arkansas State’s nine hits.
Beach (2-1) picked up the win as he allowed two earned runs on five hits and struck out five in six innings. Jones (1-7) gave up 12 hits and six runs as he suffered the loss for ASU.
WKU wraps up its six-game homestand on Wednesday when it hosts Kentucky at 6 p.m. (CDT) at Nick Denes Field.