BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Matt Hightower hit two grand slams, totaling 11 RBI on the day as Western Kentucky University (5-1) rolled to a pair of wins over Albany (0-4) on Sunday afternoon at Nick Denes Field. In game one, the Hilltoppers won 17-6 in seven innings and claimed the doubleheader nightcap 13-3 in a game that was halted after 5.0 innings on pregame mutual consent due to travel concerns for the Great Danes. The wins are the seventh-straight at home for WKU dating back to the 2008 season.
In game one, the Toppers erupted for seven runs on four hits and three walks to blow open a 3-1 game, pushing the advantage to 10-1. Matt Hightower delivered an RBI double down the left field line plating Matt Payton and JB Paxson in the frame while Chad Cregar and Wade Gaynor went back-to-back for the first time this year. Cregar smacked the first pitch he saw from Cory Warrings over the right field wall while Dayleg took a 2-0 offering out of the park in left.
After the Great Danes got two back in the top of the fourth, keyed by solo shot by Pete Eichner, WKU Paxson led off the home half of the inning with homer to left field, one of five Hilltopper long balls in the game.
Leading 13-4 in the bottom of the sixth, Hightower crushed a grand slam to make it 17-4. Hightower finished a perfect 4-for-4 with a career-high seven RBI and three runs scored. Cregar was also perfect, going 3-for-3 with five RBI while Jared Andreoli and Jake Wells each added two hits.
Freshman Kes Carter (1-0), making his first career start, allowed three earned runs on four hits and one walk, fanning five. Garrie Krueger and Bryce Jenney worked the final 3.0 innings, surrendering three runs, all earned, on five hits, not issuing a walk and striking out six.
Warrings (0-1) suffered the loss for Albany after giving up 10 earned runs on eight hits and six walks, failing to record a strikeout in 2.2 innings of work.
Gary Pitcheralle and Sean Donovan each had a pair of hits to lead the Great Danes.
In game two, Albany came out swinging, drawing first blood in the top of the first on a Dave West RBI groundout and a two-out single to center by Eichner pushing across Brendan Rowland to grab the 2-0 lead.
WKU knotted things up in the bottom of the inning, and the two teams remained tied until the home half of the fourth when Jake Wells smacked an RBI double off the wall in left center, part of a three-hit, four-run inning. The Toppers tacked on six in the fifth to win going away 13-3. Hightower highlighted the final frame for WKU with his second grand slam of the day, the third of the series for the Hilltoppers.
Evan Teague (1-0) picked up the win for WKU, tossing a perfect inning in relief of Tyler Gilliland.
Chase Austin (0-1) received the loss after surrendering seven runs, five earned, on five hits and two walks, striking out three in 3.0 innings of work.
Wells finished 3-for-3 with two RBI and three runs scored for WKU while Gaynor was 2-for-2 with three RBI.
WKU concludes its five-game homestand on Tuesday, March 3 with the Hilltoppers host Belmont with first pitch set for 3:00 PM at Nick Denes Field. Baseball season and single game tickets are on sale for the 2009 campaign. Call the WKU ticket office at (270) 745-5222 for more information. Fans may also visit WKUsports.com as the site contains ticket and Hilltopper Athletic Foundation information.