BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Four of the youngest arms on the Western Kentucky University (19-7) pitching staff, three freshman and a sophomore, combined to throw 7.0 innings of hitless baseball against Kentucky Wesleyan (7-22) in a 15-0 blanking of the Panthers on Tuesday afternoon at Nick Denes Field. Craig Stem, Tyler Gilliland, Harry Stubel, and Aaron Mayfield combined for the no-hitter as the game was called after seven innings due to the mutually agreed upon 10-run rule.
It was the 80th meeting between the two in-state programs, but the first in 26 years. WKU leads the all-time series 54-26, having won the last 16 meetings. The Hilltoppers also improved on their best-ever home start, now 16-1 at Denes Field this season having won their last 11 games played at the friendly confines.
WKU jumped on the Panthers early with five runs in the first keyed by a pair of two-RBI doubles from Wade Gaynor and Kes Carter.
Leading 5-0 in the home half of the second, sophomore Matt Rice doubled off the wall in right with one out, driving in Jake Wells, and extending his hitting streak to 21 games. It is the longest hitting streak in more than five years, passing Matt Ransdell's mark of 20 games set during the 2006 season.
The Toppers would tack on three more in the fifth and six in the sixth to pull away to a commanding 15-0 victory.
Jared Andreoli, Gaynor, and Rice each went 2-for-4 with Gaynor and Rice each driving in three RBI. Andreoli knocked in a pair and scored a game-high three times. Chad Cregar and Drew Morgan each drew career-highs in walks with three as five Panther pitchers combined to issue 12 free passes on the afternoon.
Stem, making his first start, retired four of the 10 batters he faced in 2.0 innings via the strikeout. Gilliland (1-0) faced just one over the minimum in his 3.0 innings of work, fanning one and walking two in picking up the win. Stubel struck out the side in the sixth while Mayfield fanned two of the three batters he faced in the seventh.
Michael Ruby (0-5) lasted just 1.1 innings, allowing six runs, all earned, on five hits and four walks in the loss for Kentucky Wesleyan.
The game marked the 12th time this year WKU has posted double digit runs as the Toppers improved to 13-0 when holding their opponents to nine hits or less.
WKU will conclude its five-game homestand on Wednesday, April 1 when the Hilltoppers host Lipscomb at 6:00 PM at Nick Denes Field. Head coach Chris Finwood will be looking for his 100th win, making him just the fourth skipper at WKU to achieve that feat.