BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — For the third-straight day, Western Kentucky University (18-7) jumped out to a early lead on VCU (10-10), but on a chilly Sunday afternoon at Nick Denes Field, the Rams pushed across five in the seventh to take an 8-5 advantage, only to watch the Hilltoppers score four in the bottom of the seventh and three more in the eighth for the 12-8 victory. WKU sweeps the weekend series with VCU, their seventh-straight series win and the ninth consecutive series victory at home.
Now 15-1 at home in 2009, the Toppers are off to their best start at the friendly confines in 90 seasons of WKU Baseball.
The Toppers got on the board in the first with a two-out, two-RBI single to center field by Matt Rice. The sophomore from Johnson City, Tenn. went 2-for-5 on the afternoon, extending his hitting streak to a career-high 20 games while upping his team-best two-out RBI season total to 14.
After a Hilltopper error by Wade Gaynor led to an RBI groundout off the bat of ML Morgan in the third, trimming the margin to 2-1, Gaynor atoned for his miscue in the bottom of the frame by blasting a three-run shot over the wall in left to make it 5-1. Gaynor would add a two-run homer in the eighth to finish 2-for-2 with two walks, four runs scored, five RBI, and a pair of home runs. He is now just one back of Chad Cregar for the team lead with 10. As a unit, WKU has launched 39 long balls through 25 games.
Shane Cameron struck out the first four batters he faced and pitched strong through 5.2 innings, allowing just three runs, two earned, on three hits and two walks, striking out a career-high eight in tossing 88 pitches in the no decision.
As VCU chipped away at the 5-1 deficit, first with Taylor Perkins singling up the middle in the fifth and later scoring on a wild pitch, then it was Perkins in the sixth who drove home Doug Otto with another base hit to make it 5-3.
Nate Furry greeted reliever Chad Adcock, one of seven Topper hurlers used by head coach Chis Finwood on the day, by taking a 1-0 offering out of the park in left, drawing the Rams within one at 5-4. Adcock gave up a pair of hits, but settled in to fan Andrew Dimino and Otto. Evan Teague (2-1) came on to try and get the final out of the inning, but VCU got RBI singles from Justin Wright and Joe Van Meter followed by Perkins' triple to center field, plating two, as the Rams scored four with two outs and led 8-5.
Perkins finished 3-for-5 with three RBI while Furry also had a multi-hit day going 2-for-4 with one RBI and two runs scored.
WKU, however, countered with four in the home half of the seventh, ignited by a solo shot by Jake Wells and capped off with the game winning hit, a single through the left side of the infield by freshman Logan Robbins, as the Toppers regained the lead 9-8.
Gaynor's two-run homer and a sacrifice fly from Wells capped the scoring in the eighth at 12-8. Wells finished 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored while Drew Morgan added a 2-for-3 day.
Teague notches the win despite a rough outing, surrendering two runs on three hits in one-third of an inning.
Aaron Morgan (2-1) pitched effectively for three innings, but was charged with four runs in his fourth frame of work. In 3.2 innings, he allowed four hits and four walks, fanning five in the loss, throwing 84 pitches.
WKU entered the weekend just 7-7 when allowing opponents to reach double figures in hits, as opposed to 8-0 when holding them to nine hits or less, but the Toppers bucked the trend this weekend, twice winning despite allowing the Rams more than 10 hits.
For WKU, Sunday was their 11th game this year posting double digit runs, which they are not surprisingly 11-0 in those contests, and the Toppers are nearly unbeatable on the weekend, now 16-1 on games played on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
WKU will continue its five-game homestand on Tuesday, March 31 when the Hilltoppers host Kentucky Wesleyan at 6:00 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.