Bowling Green, Ky. — An eight-run first inning was all the offense the Western Kentucky University baseball team would need as they went on to score a season-high 21 runs and pounded out 23 hits in a 21-8 win over Albany Saturday afternoon at Nick Denes Field.
The win by WKU (9-12) evened the weekend series with the Great Danes (5-10) at a game apiece. The teams will play the rubber game and finale of the series Sunday at 1 p.m. (CDT).
Wade Gaynor had a career day for WKU, collecting a career-high five hits, while Scott Kaskie drove in four runs. Three other Hilltoppers — Terrence Dayleg, Matt Hightower and C.J. Wamsley each collected three hits on the afternoon.
After Hilltopper started Bart Carter retired Albany in the top of the first, his offense sent 12 men to the plate and gave him an early eight-run cushion. After the first two batters of the inning reached, a one-out double by Scotty Colt brought home the first run of the game. Troy Frazier followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0, and Gaynor doubled home Colt to stretch the lead to three runs. In all, six straight Hilltoppers would reach with two outs in the inning as Dayleg delivered the big blow with a three-RBI double that put WKU in front 8-0. WKU was able to chace Albany starter John Naples (2-2) after just 0.2 innings as he was responsible for all eight runs.
After a Wamsley RBI single in the second plated the ninth Hilltopper run of the game, WKU scored four more in the fourth. In that frame, Hightower and Wamsley each came through with back-to-back RBI doubles before a two-run homer by Scott Kaskie stretched the WKU lead to 13-2.
The Toppers would add single runs in the next three innings — with Casey Hamilton driving in two of those with a solo home run in the fifth and sacrifice fly in the sixth.
Carter (4-1) went on to pitch 6.0 innings to get the win, allowing six hits and two runs, while striking out four batters. The Danes were able to put four runs on the board in the top of the eighth against reliever Adam Duvall, but WKU responded by batting around for the second time in the game — sending 10 men to the plate and scoring five runs to stretch the advantage to 21-6.
J.B. Paxson made his first appearance on the mound as a Hilltopper in the ninth, and allowed two runs thanks to a Mike Konstanty double before close out the game.