BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Wade Gaynor and Jake Wells each hit home runs in the bottom of the third, accounting for all five runs in the frame as Western Kentucky University (31-12) bolted to an 11-3 lead and cruised to a 14-4 win over Austin Peay (18-26) in non-conference action on Tuesday night at Nick Denes Field. The win is the 24th in 26 home games this season for the Hilltoppers and snaps a five-game slide to the Governors.
Freshman Kes Carter hit his first career longball in the second inning and Gaynor added another home run in the eighth as WKU belted four on the night, their third highest single game total this season.
Coming back from an injury and seeing his first live action since March 22, pitcher Bryce Jenney made his first start of the season. The sophomore got off to a slow start as Austin Peay got three two-out RBI to jump out to a 3-0 advantage, but Jenney settled down to work a one-two-three second inning. Matt Kole's double down the right field line scored Greg Bachman and Jon Clinard to make it 2-0. Trey Lucas then singled home Kole to increase the margin to 3-0, but that would be all the damage the Governors would do.
Chad Cregar answered with an RBI triple off the wall in center to score Wade Gaynor from first and then one of two Austin Peay miscues on the night allowed Cregar to score off Matt Rice's ground ball to make it a 3-2 game after one complete inning.
Carter tied the game with a leadoff homer in the second while Matt Hightower tacked on a sacrifice fly and Rice and Cregar each had RBI singles, part of a four-run, five-hit inning as WKU pulled in front 6-3.
Wells smacked a two-run blast and Gaynor followed with a three-run shot as the Toppers blew the game open 11-3 with five in the third.
Seven of nine Hilltoppers had a hit while six scored runs and six drove in at least one RBI. Gaynor finished 3-for-4 with four RBI and a career-best five runs scored. It was the third time this season the slugger has had a multi-home run game. Cregar was 3-for-4 with three RBI and freshman Jared Andreoli went 3-for-6 with two runs scored from his leadoff spot. Rice, Wells, and Matt Payton each had two hits for WKU.
Lucas finished 3-for-4 to lead Austin Peay while Kole was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI. The duo combined for five of the team's six hits.
Five Topper relievers held Austin Peay to just one run on four hits, not walking a batter and fanning seven over the final 7.0 innings. Garrie Krueger (1-1) picked up his first win of the season working 1.1 innings of middle relief. In a non-save situation, JB Paxson struck out the side in the ninth.
Lucas Anderson (1-2) suffered the loss for the Governors after getting touched up for six runs, five earned, on seven hits and one walk, striking out two in 2.0 innings of work.
WKU improved to 21-3 when out hitting their opponent, 19-0 when scoring 10 or more runs, 23-1 when allowing five runs or less, and 20-1 when holding their foes to nine hits or less.
The Hilltoppers return to the diamond tomorrow when they travel to Nashville, Tenn. to face Lipscomb University at 6:00 PM.